Six make longlist in Wycombe parliamentary candidate selection

Katie Neame
© DrimaFilm/

Update, November 19th: Former MP for Wolverhampton North East Emma Reynolds has been selected as the next candidate for Wycombe.

Update, November 1st: The shortlist for Wycombe has been announced: former MP for Gloucester Parmjit Dhanda, former MP for Wolverhampton North East Emma Reynolds, Lambeth councillor Tom Rutland and former advisor to Gordon Brown David Taylor.

A Labour victory in Wycombe would be a major upset, unseating Tory MP Steve Baker who has represented the constituency since 2010. The seat has returned a Conservative MP since 1951, but Baker’s majority has narrowed in recent years – from 14,856 in 2015 to 4,214 in 2019.

The constituency is often considered to be part of the so-called ‘Blue Wall‘; Tory-held seats that voted Remain and have a higher-than-average concentration of degree holders. YouGov’s latest survey saw Keir Starmer win ‘best Prime Minister’ over Rishi Sunak in 43 out of the 53 seats it classed as ‘Blue Wall’, including in Wycombe, where the Labour leader beats the new Prime Minister by 38% to 31%.

A longlist for the next Labour candidate in the constituency has been drawn up with six candidates making it through to shortlisting, which is due to take place over the weekend. A hustings is scheduled for November 19th, after which members will vote for their preferred candidate. Here is a round-up of those in the running.

The first name on the longlist is Fiona Collins. She is chair of Chesham and Amersham Constituency Labour Party (CLP) and currently serves as equalities officer of the Co-Operative Party’s Buckinghamshire branch. In her day job, Collins works as a solicitor, and she is a member of the Society of Labour Lawyers.

Parmjit Dhanda has been longlisted. Dhanda was MP for Gloucester from 2001 to 2010 and was the first person of Sikh faith to serve as a government minister. Prior to entering parliament, he worked for the Labour Party as a campaigns organiser in West London and the West of England, as well as serving as a councillor on Hillingdon council. He is executive director of Back Heathrow, a campaign group backing the construction of a new runway at the airport. His endorsements include UNISON, ASLEF, USDAW, GMB and MP Barry Gardiner.

Emma Reynolds is the second former MP to be included on the longlist. Reynolds represented Wolverhampton North East from 2010 to 2019, when she was unseated by Tory candidate Jane Stevenson. During her time in parliament, she held various shadow cabinet roles including Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. She currently holds the role of managing director of public affairs, policy and research at financial lobby group TheCityUK. Her endorsements include shadow minister Jess Phillips and MP Harriet Harman.

Next on the longlist is Tom Rutland. He is a councillor in Lambeth, representing Streatham Common and Vale ward and currently serving as deputy chief whip. He works in public affairs for Prospect union. He was campaign office manager for Tessa Jowell’s 2015 campaign to be the Labour candidate for London mayor. Prior to that, he worked as a researcher for Labour peer Andrew Adonis during his time as shadow infrastructure minister. His endorsements include Community, the CWU, Disability Labour, the Labour Movement for Europe and MP Ben Bradshaw.

Melanie Smith has also made the longlist. Smith is a councillor on Buckinghamshire council, representing Downley ward, which is within Wycombe constituency. During the pandemic, she set up a food bank for the local community, which led to the creation of the Wycombe Food Hub. Outside of politics, she is head of compliance for a company working in the property sector.

The final name on the list is David Taylor. He was previously an advisor to Gordon Brown, supporting the former Prime Minister’s work on expanding global education. Taylor founded the Labour Campaign for International Development (LCID) and currently serves as its vice-chair. In his day job, he works for a charity, focusing on climate change and development. His endorsements include SERA, the FBU and LCID, as well as Shadow International Development Secretary Preet Gill and shadow ministers Naz Shah and Alison McGovern.

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