Three Labour parliamentary candidates selected over the weekend

Katie Neame
© DrimaFilm/Shutterstock.com

After something of a lull in selections, we are back in business, with three more candidates selected over the weekend. Local members in Thurrock and Barking met to select their parliamentary hopefuls for the next election, while City of Chester Constituency Labour Party (CLP) chose its candidate for the upcoming by-election.

Here’s a quick look at the candidates selected…

Barking

Leader of Barking and Dagenham council Darren Rodwell has been selected as the seat’s next candidate. Incumbent MP Margaret Hodge announced in December last year that she will stand down at the next election after 27 years in the role. Rodwell has served on the council since 2010 and represents Northbury ward within the constituency. His endorsements included Shadow Levelling Up Secretary Lisa Nandy, Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and Labour Movement for Europe.

Rodwell reportedly won selection by 190 votes to 120, beating fellow Barking and Dagenham councillor Josie Channer. Commenting following the result, Rodwell said: “I am so honoured to have been selected as the Labour candidate for Barking. Thank you so much to everyone involved, to my campaign team, all those who supported me and voted. Together, we will go forward and keep fighting for the people of Barking and the heart of Dagenham.”

His selection caused controversy after a video emerged from a Black History Month event held three years ago. At the event, the council leader told attendees he had the “worst tan possible for a Black man”, adding: “But I have the passion and the rhythm of the African and the Caribbean. I used to do swing dance, because I used to love jiggling about.” Rodwell was cleared of wrongdoing by Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) following a complaint earlier this month and apologised on Twitter, describing the comments as “extremely stupid and embarrassing”.

Commenting following Rodwell’s selection, a Momentum spokesperson said: “Rodwell’s selection lays bare a serious issue in the party. Just as the Forde report warned, anti-Black racism is being swept under the carpet out of factional loyalty. As Black Labour MPs have said, the leadership’s actions risk losing the faith and support of BAME communities.”

City of Chester

Samantha Dixon was chosen as the candidate for the City of Chester by-election, which will be held on December 1st. Dixon has been a councillor on Cheshire West and Chester Council since 2011, representing Chester City and the Garden Quarter ward. She currently serves as leader’s champion for refugees. She was previously leader of the council and the first woman to hold the position. Earlier this year, Dixon was recognised with an MBE for her services to Chester. She has lived in the Chester area since she was four years old.

Commenting following the result, Dixon said: “It is an honour to be representing Chester as Labour’s parliamentary candidate. Chester is my home, where I brought up my family and where my heart is. We have so much to be proud of in our historic city, but we’ve been let down by this Conservative government.”

“My life has been dedicated to helping local people, and I will take the fight to the Tories on behalf of all Chester residents,” she added.

Thurrock

Local members in Thurrock selected Jen Craft as their next candidate. She was Margaret Hodge’s campaign manager in 2010, running the campaign to beat the British National Party (BNP) in Barking. She ran for election to Thurrock council in 2019, coming in second behind a candidate from a local party, the Thurrock Independents. Craft was born and grew up in the constituency and now lives there with her family. Her endorsements included the GMB, Usdaw and Community.

Craft reportedly won selection “easily“, beating the three other candidates on the shortlist: former leader of the Labour group on Basildon council Jack Ferguson, former leader of Thurrock council John Kent and Ealing councillor Miriam Rice.

Tweeting following the result, Craft said: “Hard to put into words how proud I feel to have been selected to be Labour’s candidate for Thurrock. This is my home and my community, what an incredible opportunity to have the chance to represent us. Let’s get to work.”

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