Update, November 12th: Former Lewisham councillor Kevin Bonavia has been selected as Labour’s next candidate for Stevenage.
Update, October 31st: A shortlist for the next Labour candidate in Stevenage has been drawn up: former Lewisham councillor Kevin Bonavia, Stevenage Borough councillor Nazmin Chowdhury, Redbridge councillor John Howard and Medway councillor Naushabah Khan.
Stevenage is currently represented in parliament by Tory MP Stephen McPartland, who was re-elected for a fourth time in 2019 with a majority of 8,562. However, the seat returned a Labour MP throughout the New Labour years and with comparably large majorities in both 1997 and 2001.
Moreover, Stevenage Borough Council – which covers the majority of the constituency – has been controlled by Labour since its creation in the early 1970s. Labour currently has 24 councillors, while the Tories have eight and the Lib Dems have six. Labour’s majority on the council has fluctuated in recent years, with the party losing six seats at the 2021 local elections. But Labour gained two seats in the most recent locals, demonstrating a continued local popularity.
A longlist of seven names has been drawn up for the constituency’s next Labour candidate. Shortlisting will take place on October 29th followed by hustings on November 12th. Here’s our rundown of the candidates included on the longlist:
Callum Anderson is in the running. Anderson was elected as a councillor on Ealing council at this year’s local elections and is a member of Labour’s national policy forum, representing the London region. He stood as the Labour candidate in South West Bedfordshire in 2019, coming in second behind the Tory candidate. Anderson works in financial services, having previous held roles in the charity sector, local government and various trade associations. He has been endorsed by GMB and Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury James Murray.
Next on the longlist is Kevin Bonavia. He is a former councillor, who served on Lewisham council from 2010 to 2022. He spent eight years as a cabinet member, covering two portfolios, including leading the council’s work on refugees when Lewisham became the UK’s first borough of sanctuary for refugees. He stood as the Labour candidate in Rochford and Southend East in 2010 and in Clacton in 2019, coming second behind the Tory candidates on both occasions. Outside of politics, Bonavia is a solicitor. He lives in Stevenage. His campaign has been endorsed by Labour MP Janet Daby and peer Alf Dubs.
Nazmin Chowdhury is also on the list. Chowdhury is a councillor on Stevenage Borough Council, elected in 2022 to represent Bedwell ward. She is a community connector for the Stevenage World Forum, a local organisation that supports ethnic communities within the town. In her day job, she works as a clinical negligence solicitor for the National Pharmacy Association.
John Howard has been longlisted. Howard has been a councillor on Redbridge council for eight years and currently serves as cabinet member for stronger communities. He works for Commonplace, a platform that helps to engage local communities in discussions about changes to their area. He previously worked in various roles in the communications and public affairs sector, including for the Rail Delivery Group and Asthma UK. He has been endorsed by Usdaw.
Next on the list is Naushabah Khan. She is a councillor on Medway council and currently serves on the shadow cabinet as housing spokesperson. Khan is a member of Labour’s national policy forum, representing the South East region. She has twice stood as the Labour candidate in Rochester and Strood, in the 2014 by-election and at the 2015 election. Khan is currently an associate partner at a consultancy, having previously held roles at the European parliament and the Department for Education. She is a trustee of the Fawcett Society. Her campaign has been backed by shadow employment minister Alison McGovern and Labour MP Chris Bryant.
Tom Plater has also made the longlist. Plater is a councillor on North Herts council, elected in 2022. He currently serves as deputy executive member for enterprise and arts. He was previously chair of North East Hertfordshire Constituency Labour Party (CLP) and has served as a Labour Party organiser in Milton Keynes. Plater currently works as an event security coordinator. Prior to that, he was a branch administrator for UNISON’s Hertfordshire branch. A musician, Plater has been endorsed by the Musicians’ Union. His other endorsements include ASLEF and the CWU. He was born in Stevenage.
The last name on the list is Moriah Priestley. She is a councillor on Milton Keynes council, representing Central Milton Keynes ward. She is currently chair of the council’s health and adult social care scrutiny committee and previously served as cabinet member for economy and culture. Outside of politics, she is a leadership coach and business mentor who has worked with various organisations, including the cabinet office and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.