Jas Athwal beats Sam Tarry to become Labour candidate for Ilford South

Katie Neame

Sam Tarry MP has been deselected after local members voted for Jas Athwal to be the party’s parliamentary candidate for Ilford South at the next general election.

In a meeting of the Ilford South Constituency Labour Party (CLP) this evening, the Labour leader of Redbridge Council reportedly received the backing of 499 members – while 361 supported the incumbent MP.

Commenting after the result was announced, Tarry told LabourList: “I’m incredibly disappointed in this result, mostly for all my committed volunteers and the wonderful people of Ilford South. I intend to issue a further statement tomorrow on the process and outcome.”

Athwal said: “Ilford is my home, it is where I live, went to school and where my children all went to school. It is the only place I would ever want to represent. The opportunity to be the Labour candidate at the next election and be part of Keir Starmer’s winning team is a real honour.”

Tarry was ‘triggered‘ in July – meaning that an electoral college of local party branches and organisations affiliated to Ilford South Constituency Labour Party (CLP) voted against him being automatically reselected as the Labour candidate and in favour of a full selection process.

Following the first two branch nomination meetings last month, Tarry revealed in a statement that he had instructed his supporters not to attend the meetings and instead to support him at hustings.

Tarry declared that he had “no faith” that the meetings would be carried out fairly after the “painful” trigger process, declaring that none of the issues he had raised about the process had been resolved.

Allegations of voter fraud made by Tarry following the trigger ballot were dismissed by Labour’s general secretary David Evans as an “isolated incident”.

Tarry received endorsements from Unite, ASLEF, the CWU, the FBU and the GMB. He was joined on the campaign trail by several left-wing MPs including John McDonnell, Barry Gardiner, Apsana Begum, Ian Byrne, Clive Lewis and Bell Ribeiro-Addy.

Athwal was backed by neighbouring MP Wes Streeting and was also endorsed by shadow minister Preet Gill. He received the backing of all ten of Ilford South’s local branches and endorsements from UNISON, Usdaw and Community.

The Shadow Health Secretary congratulated Athwal following the result this evening, arguing that the “resounding” victory “reflects his lifelong commitment to this borough and his outstanding leadership for Redbridge Labour”.

Tarry was selected as the candidate for the constituency in 2019 after a controversial selection process, during which Athwal was suspended from the Labour Party over a complaint related to sexual harassment.

Athwal’s suspension was announced the night before the selection meeting was due to take place. Tarry and Athwal were considered to be frontrunners in the contest. Athwal was later cleared of wrongdoing by Labour’s national constitutional committee after a year-long suspension.

Commenting following his reinstatement, Athwal described the complainant as “someone with a political axe to grind”, declaring: “There must never be a repeat of this kind of corruption.” Tarry said claims of a stitch-up were “not only farcical but insulting to the alleged victim and their family”.

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