Emma Dent Coad, who served as the MP for Kensington between 2017 and 2019, has been excluded from the longlist in the process to determine who will be the Labour candidate to contest the seat at the next general election.
In a statement released today, Dent Coad said she is “devastated that the Labour Party has blocked me from standing to once again represent my community in parliament, the community I have spent the last 20 years of my life fighting for”.
Dent Coad has been a councillor on Kensington and Chelsea Council in London since 2006, and is the current leader of the Labour group on the local authority.
“I am angry that local members and our local community in Kensington have been denied the opportunity to vote in a free and fair contest, which has been sacrificed for the sake of factional intrigue from Labour officials,” she said.
“If I have been outspoken in my politics, it is due to my passion and care for Kensington – for my neighbours and friends – and because of my burning desire to stamp out injustice and build a fairer, more equal society.”
LabourList understands the reason cited was concern over her past social media activity. She accused “unaccountable Labour officials” of having “exploited this outspokenness to unjustly prevent me from standing for the seat”, despite her having the backing of Unite, which “should have seen me longlisted automatically”.
Dent Coad apologised in November 2017 after being accused of being a “racist” after writing a blog post in 2017 in which she described Conservative London assembly member Shaun Bailey as a “token ghetto boy”. The then MP told the BBC at the time that she had been quoting a constituent.
A Labour source told LabourList: “It’s right that the Labour party expects prospective MPs to uphold the highest standards. Under Keir’s leadership that’s not going to change.”
Commenting on the decision this afternoon, John McDonnell MP said the decision is “outrageous and risks further alienating the Labour Party from the communities we strive to represent”.
He added: “These blockings don’t just undermine Labour’s broad church, they ride roughshod over the rights of our local parties and trade unions. We need Keir Starmer to urgently intervene and ensure fair process.”
McDonnell described as “appalling” the decision to exclude Maurice Mcleod from the Camberwell and Peckham longlist over the weekend.
Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) across the country are currently selecting their candidates for the next general election. 36 have been selected as potential future Labour MPs so far, with several local parties currently part way through the process.
Kensington had been considered a safe Conservative seat prior to the 2017 election, returning a Tory MP in every election since the constituency’s creation in 1974. Dent Coad won the seat in 2017 with a majority of just 20 before losing the constituency in the subsequent election by a margin of 150 votes.
A Momentum spokesperson said “Emma Dent Coad lives and breathes Kensington” and “fights tirelessly for her community as a councillor and campaigner, particularly on housing issues so vital to a community scarred by Grenfell”.
They added: “It is a travesty of justice that passionate, popular advocates for their community like Emma are being blocked en masse by Keir Starmer’s Labour on spurious grounds, so loyalists from outside the area can be parachuted in. This is a deeply damaging episode for the Labour Party in Kensington, and one that local people are unlikely to forget.”
I am devastated to announce that the Labour Party has blocked me from restanding as our community's Member of Parliament.
20 years of local campaigning matters less than factional intrigue in our Party today.
I will never stop fighting for the people of Kensington. Statement 🔽 pic.twitter.com/XW12xe189C
— Emma Dent Coad (@emmadentcoad) October 17, 2022