Ian Byrne’s win is unlikely to assuage the left’s concerns about this selection round

Katie Neame
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Ian Byrne has won his reselection battle in Liverpool West Derby. The MP reportedly beat challenger Anthony Lavelle, a local councillor, by 210 votes to 198 – a tight margin but notably not as close as Byrne’s selection victory in 2019, when he is thought to have won by just three votes. Byrne issued a brief statement this morning, thanking members for voting for him and declaring: “I won’t let you down.” Reacting to the result yesterday evening, a Momentum spokesperson said Byrne had “roared back to victory” despite a “deeply flawed trigger ballot process, which broke with basic principles of fairness”. They argued that the MP has “struck a blow for the left against an out-of-control Starmer machine willing to break Labour’s own rules, disregard trade unions and attack its own MPs in the service of their right-wing purge”.

The selection process in the constituency was marred by controversy. Byrne claimed earlier this month that he had heard “allegations of multiple rule breaches” and revealed that his team had “logged a number of complaints with the Labour Party on behalf of local members regarding alleged rule breaches, misconduct and concerns that concerted efforts are taking place to deny Liverpool West Derby members their democratic rights”. LabourList revealed last week that Byrne had filed an “official notification” about alleged intimidation at a campaign rally. Byrne did not name anyone in the statement that he released following the event, but local councillor Harry Doyle – who was present at the location of Byrne’s rally to take part in a campaign session with selection rival Lavelle – responded with his own statement, claiming that there was “no intimidation from any of Anthony’s team”.

Byrne’s reselection has been held up as a major victory for the left of the party, and his colleagues in the Socialist Campaign Group (SCG), including Zarah Sultana and John McDonnell, were quick to congratulate him on the result. As has been widely reported, this selection round has seen little success for the left so far. Faiza Shaheen has been the most overtly left-wing candidate to win selection, while Byrne and fellow SCG members Apsana Begum and Sam Tarry have all been ‘triggered’ by their local parties, meaning members and affiliates have voted for a full selection process rather than to automatically reselect the incumbent MP. Tarry lost the subsequent selection contest in his constituency of Ilford South to Jas Athwal. Momentum has argued that candidates on the Labour left are being blocked from standing “as a rule of thumb” in a “historic break with the ‘broad church’ Starmer himself has espoused”. Byrne’s victory – though welcomed by those on the left of the party – will likely do little to assuage their wider concerns.

Liverpool West Derby was not the only Constituency Labour Party (CLP) tasked with selecting their next parliamentary candidate over the weekend. Members in Wolverhampton North East selected Sureena Brackenridge, a deputy headteacher, while Perran Moon won the selection contest in Camborne and Redruth. In Camberwell and Peckham – another contest that has caused controversy among the left of the party – members backed Miatta Fahnbulleh, chief executive of the New Economics Foundation. Wycombe CLP chose former MP for Wolverhampton North East Emma Reynolds, while members in North Swindon opted for Greenwich councillor Chris Lloyd.

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