Islington North CLP: Selection contest ‘undemocratic’ if Corbyn not on ballot

Tom Belger
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Islington North Constituency Labour Party’s officers have warned that an “undemocratic selection process” in Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency would risk harming the party, suggesting members should have a chance to choose with Corbyn on the ballot.

It comes after the party opened up applications to stand for Labour in the seat, following Corbyn being barred from standing by the national executive committee last year and losing the whip before that.

The CLPs’ officers said in a statement posted on X: “Islington North CLP members have been informed that the National Executive Committee (NEC) has opened the parliamentary candidate selection procedure for Islington North.

We support Keir Starmer’s statement that ‘local party members should select their candidates for every election’. We ask that local democracy be respected and that we be able to choose our prospective parliamentary candidate from amongst any Labour Party member in good standing.

An undemocratic selection process would harm the Labour Party’s efforts to defeat the Conservatives and to achieve the real change this country and our communities in Islington North desperately need.

The CLP’s general committee had almost unanimously passed a motion in support of Corbyn and its “democratic right” to choose its candidate shortly after the NEC barred him last year.

Applications for candidates will close on Monday (May 20), with a ballot opening by the end of the week. A Labour candidate is expected to be in place by June 1.

Two candidates have already announced their intention to stand; writer and transport campaigner Christian Wolmar and journalist Paul Mason. There’s been speculation about whether councillor Praful Nargund will run too; he wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Speaking to LabourList after his bid to become the Labour candidate in Islington North, Mason said: “What’s made me want to stand is it’s crunch time in British politics. The Labour government that is about to take power will have one chance to convince millions of people who are sick of politics, who are sick of being financially insecure and powerless, that we can make a difference.

“I think, with my experience as a journalist and a campaigner over many decades, I can go into Parliament and represent the people of Islington North in that parliamentary Labour Party in a way that says ‘let’s deliver for you’.”

Meanwhile writing for LabourList in February, Wolmar said he can offer expertise in transport matters as a Labour government works to recreate a renationalised railway.

He said: “I have the strength and experience to stand up to the expected hostility from some of Corbyn’s supporters. It will be a fierce contest, but one in which I am qualified to participate.”

The selection process has already sparked controversy in some corners of the party, amid reports that the shortlisting of candidates will be carried out by the national executive committee, rather than by the local party, and that the hustings will take place online only.

MPs on the left of the party including John McDonnell, Mick Whitley and Beth Winter have said members should be able to choose, with Corbyn on the ballot.

A Momentum spokesperson said: “Local Labour members in Islington North want to make their own decision, as Keir pledged. And they want the chance to select the sitting MP of over 40 years, a Labour member of good standing: Jeremy Corbyn.”

Corbyn has still not made his own intentions explicitly clear. But he said last year after members locally passed a motion backing him: “I have spent the past 40 years campaigning alongside my community for a mass redistribution of wealth, ownership and power. That is what I’ll continue to do.”

One Labour source told LabourList: “Every eligible Labour member in Islington North will be able to cast their ballot to choose their candidate for the general election.”

Labour was not immediately available for comment.

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