Two more Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) met over the weekend to select their candidates for the next election: South Thanet and Waveney. Both seats are currently represented by Tory MPs, who won large majorities at the last election. Craig Mackinlay was elected in South Thanet for a third time in 2019, securing a majority of 10,587 votes. Waveney has been represented in parliament by Peter Aldous since 2010. His most recent majority was 18,002 votes. Here’s a quick look at the Labour candidates selected to contest the seats next time round…
Polly Billington was selected as the candidate for South Thanet. She is currently chief executive of UK100, a network of local leaders that develops and implements plans for the net-zero transition. She is also a councillor for De Beauvoir ward in Hackney, having first been elected in 2018. She was director of communications on Sadiq Khan’s selection campaign to be a London mayoral candidate in 2015. She also worked as a special adviser to Ed Miliband at the Cabinet Office and the Department of Energy and Climate Change between 2007 and 2010. Billington contested Thurrock at the 2015 election, coming in second behind the Tory candidate by 536 votes. Outside of politics, she was a BBC journalist for 15 years.
Billington’s endorsements included Open Labour, the Fire Brigades Union, SME4Labour and the Jewish Labour Movement. She reportedly won selection after beating Charlotte Cornell by 151 votes to 120 on the final round of voting. Commenting on the result, Billington said: “Thank you so much to the [South Thanet Labour] members for your time, support and votes this afternoon. I am so pleased to have been selected as the [Labour] candidate for South Thanet. Let’s do this!”
Members in Waveney picked Jess Asato as their next candidate. Asato is head of policy and public affairs at children’s charity Barnardo’s. She stood as the Labour candidate for Norwich North at the 2015 election, coming in second behind the Tory candidate. She worked as a political adviser to Tessa Jowell between 2011 and 2014 and previously served as a councillor in Islington. Prior to that, she was director of the Labour Yes to AV campaign, social media lead for David’s Miliband Labour leadership campaign and acting director of Progress.
Asato’s endorsements included UNISON, the GMB, Usdaw and Community. In a tweet following the result, she said: “Honoured to be selected as Labour’s candidate for Waveney. A huge thank you to everyone who’s supported and helped on my campaign. I will continue to fight to turn Waveney red again and for the Labour government this country desperately needs. The hard work begins today.”