Colchester Labour parliamentary candidate selection – runners and riders

Katie Neame
©️ Jakub Junek/

Update, November 5th: Colchester Borough councillor Pam Cox has been selected as the next Labour candidate for Colchester.

Update, October 24th: LabourList understands the shortlist for Colchester is: Colchester Borough councillor Pam Cox, Southend-on-Sea councillor Lydia Hyde, Colchester Borough councillor Lee Scordis and Labour group leader on Harlow council Chris Vince.

Update, October 6th: A longlist for Colchester has been confirmed. The candidates included are: former deputy leader of Lambeth council Matt Bennett, Colchester Borough councillor Pam Cox, Southend-on-Sea councillor Lydia Hyde, Ealing councillor Miriam Rice, Colchester Borough councillor Lee Scordis and Labour group leader on Harlow council Chris Vince.

LabourList understands shortlisting is due to take place on October 23rd and hustings is scheduled for November 5th.

On the face of it, Colchester does not seem the most exciting prospective for Labour at the next election. Though the Labour candidate came second in both 2017 and 2019, incumbent Tory MP Will Quince’s majority has grown at each election since he first won the seat in 2015 and currently stands at 9,423. Prior to that, the constituency was represented by Lib Dem Bob Russell for almost two decades.

But the recent local election results suggest that the political situation in the constituency is more finely balanced than it at first appears. Though the Conservatives remained the largest party on the council with 19 councillors, they lost four seats, while the Lib Dems and Labour both picked up two seats, taking their totals to 14 and 13 respectively. The council is currently controlled by a joint administration consisting of the Lib Dem, Labour and Green Party groups – setting up an interesting contest for the next election. Here is our rundown of the people expected to stand to be Labour’s candidate:

Matt Bennett told LabourList that he is considering putting himself forward. Bennett is the former deputy leader of Lambeth council and served on the council for 12 years, eight of which he spent as a cabinet member. Prior to that, he worked in the office of Steve Reed MP, first as a senior parliamentary assistant and subsequently as head of office. He currently works as a senior consultant at a consulting firm in London. He was born and brought up in Essex.

LabourList understands that Pam Cox is also thinking about standing. Cox is a councillor on Colchester Borough Council, representing New Town and Christ Church ward, and serves as portfolio holder for heritage and culture. She has worked at the University of Essex for more than 25 years and currently holds the position of head of the sociology department. In addition to this, Cox has presented two history documentary series for the BBC.

Lee Scordis announced that he is putting himself forward for selection in a social media post last week. Scordis is a councillor on Colchester Borough Council, representing Old Heath and the Hythe ward. He also serves on Essex County Council. He is a Labour group organiser in Southwark and was previously a constituency organiser for Holborn and St Pancras Labour Party. He has worked for the charity Hope Not Hate, first as a community organiser and then as an education facilitator. Prior to that, he worked for Essex council.

Henry Tufnell confirmed to LabourList that he will be standing. Tufnell currently works as an organiser with the Cleaners and Allied Independent Workers Union (CAIWU) and previously acted as a trade union representative for the union. He was formerly a barrister.

Chris Vince announced that he was standing last week. Vince is leader of the Labour group on Harlow council and represents Little Parndon and Hare Street ward on the council. He is an East of England representative on the Co-operative Party national executive committee and serves on the Labour East regional executive committee. He has stood for election to parliament on three occasions, for Chelmsford in 2015 and 2017 and Hertford and Stortford in 2019. He has twice stood as the Labour candidate for Essex police, fire and crime commissioner in 2016 and 2021, as well as standing for election to the European parliament in 2019. Outside of politics, Vince worked for 15 years as a secondary school maths teacher.

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