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Labour’s candidate commotion

05.06.24 | Written by Tope Mayomi

A snap election means Labour has had to conduct a lot of party business very quickly to get its candidates in place – and it’s not been pretty.

Initially, it seemed as though Diane Abbott would be banned from standing following her suspension in 2023 due to comments she made that were deemed antisemitic. However, after a messy backlash Abbott will run as the Labour candidate for Hackney North. Apparently Labour Deputy leader Angela Rayner made an intervention on Abbott’s behalf and prominent right wing MPs such as Wes Streeting made their feelings known that the Hackney selection was becoming an unwanted distraction.

But perhaps distraction was the goal. With attention on Abbott, Labour has made significant moves in other seats. Faiza Shaheen has been deselected as a candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green for decade old activity on social media – and will now run against the party as an Independent. Lloyd Russell-Moyle, the incumbent MP for Brighton Kemptown has been suspended from the Labour Party following complaints about his behaviour; blocking his candidacy. Neither Shaheen nor Russell-Moyle could be considered natural allies of Keir Starmer.

Many in Labour have asked why their party quickly accepted Conservatives defectors like the right-wing Natalie Elphicke into their ranks but struggled to find a place for left wing politicians in what is meant to be a left of centre party. The answer is cynical but effective – Keir Starmer’s team believes for every Labour voter they alienate in a constituency that always votes Labour, they attract a voter in a marginal constituency that will help determine the election. The Conservatives agree with this analysis. The decision to allow Abbott to stand has been criticised by the Prime Minister, who argued that this political flip-flopping is evidence Starmer’s claim of a changed Labour party is mere rhetoric and his government would easily succumb to pressure from its left-wing.

But while Labour’s selection process hasn’t been pleasant to watch, it is now mostly complete. Meanwhile the Conservatives, who have seen a mass exodus of their MPs choosing not to restand, have to find over 100 candidates in only two days. Labour are in a better position to have the last laugh.

Labour’s candidate commotion 2