Labour denies ‘purge’ but union slams ‘jobs for the boys’ as Shaheen deselected

Pictured: Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Faiza Shaheen and Diane Abbott

Labour has been accused of a “purge” of left-wing candidates and handing out “jobs for the boys”, after Faiza Shaheen and Lloyd Russell-Moyle were de-selected while allies of the party leader were handed seats.

Shadow minister Darren Jones told the BBC on Thursday “this isn’t a purge”, and that MPs standing included some who would define themselves as being on the left.

But Faiza Shaheen was deselected late on Wednesday as Labour’s candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green at the general election over a series of past posts on social media.

The deselection of Shaheen, who was picked as the candidate for a second time to take on Iain Duncan Smith back in 2022, came just hours after Lloyd Russell-Moyle was also deselected by Labour’s national executive committee on Wednesday – and a row over the fate of Diane Abbott. Abbott said on x: “Whose clever idea has it been to have a cull of left wingers?

It means local parties will see new candidates appointed by Labour’s national executive committee, rather than through the local party or regional office, with just weeks to go until the general election.

The decisions came as Labour also picked senior Keir Starmer allies Josh Simons and Luke Akehurst as retirement seat candidates and handed general election candidacies to Westminster journalist Paul Waugh, Camden council leader Georgia Gould and a former Rachel Reeves adviser.

Dave Ward, general secretary of the Labour-affiliated Communication Workers Union, said: “The gerrymandering and jobs for the boys approach to selections whilst axing outstanding candidates is a disgrace.”

In an interview with Newsnight, Shaheen said she was “in a bit of a state of shock” at “being treated this badly”, having just receiving an email that saying her candidacy had been blocked.

READ MORE: Selections drama as Waugh and Starmer allies Akehurst and Simons picked but Russell-Moyle out and Shaheen ‘at risk’

Shaheen said: “I was on doors, knocking, six weeks after my baby was born. I have put so much effort into that seat.”

The party has not confirmed what posts the decision related to, but Shaheen said she had apologised at a disciplinary hearing this week for liking a tweet that “plays into a trope” about Jewish people. She said another post involved her describing her experiences of Islamophobia.

The Labour Muslim Network criticised the decision as “unacceptable” and said: “To use her tweets accounting personal experience of Islamophobia as evidence for deselection is utterly outrageous.”

The news came after a row and confusion over whether Diane Abbott would be allowed to stand for re-election as a Labour candidate. Abbott told supporters at a protest at Hackney Town Hall last night that she would continue as MP for as long as it is possible. Former cabinet minister Clare Short last night said Abbott had been treated “unforgivably”.

A LabourList poll of some 2,500 of our readers saw 75% say she should be able to restand, another 11% say her local party should decide, 2% say the party or whips should decide, and only 11% say she should be blocked.

READ MORE: Diane Abbott selection ‘farce’ as Starmer says decision not made on blocking her

It also came just hours after Brighton Kemptown MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle was suspended from the party pending the outcome of an investigation into a complaint submitted last week. One local Labour source told LabourList: “Lloyd successfully managed to keep the Green threat at bay for multiple elections. If they parachute one of their right-wing councillor friends from London like they have in other places along the south coast, then there will be a significant electoral backlash.”

A spokesman for Momentum said the latest deselections amounted to a “purge”.

“Left-wing women of colour like Diane Abbott and Faiza Shaheen are being targeted for deselection by Team Starmer, against the wishes of their local parties,” the spokesman said.

Daily Mirror associate editor Jason Beattie said a “ruthless re-alignment of Labour is taking place under Starmer that is more far-reaching than anything attempted by Tony Blair”, adding: “While Blair accommodated the left, Starmer is purging them in his quest to establish a party permanently camped on the centre ground.”

One Chingford and Wood Green party source condemned the probe as “devious” when Shaheen had “campaigned assiduously” and fundraised successfully despite the challenges of combining it with being a new mother, and suggested she had been confronted “totally out of the blue” with the allegations at the last minute before the election.

They suggested IDS would be “laughing all the way to the polling station” fighting a CLP “totally geared up to getting Faiza elected”. Labour was not immediately available for comment. “This surely is not the way to run the party.”

But one unnamed Labour official told Politico: “We’d much rather get this news out the way now so it doesn’t distract next week. Let this week be the controversial impositions — it’s happened under every leader.”

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “We have selected a fantastic group of candidates in place for the General Election on Thursday 4 July. They will be campaigning across the country to bring Labour’s message of change to voters.”

A party source added that the Prime Minister calling a surprise summer election meant selections needed to take place through emergency procedures to make sure everyone had a chance to vote Labour.

Read more of our 2024 general election coverage here.

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