The party needs to tread carefully replacing its estranged MPs

How is Labour handling the tricky round of parliamentary selections in seats where a sitting MP has either quit or been expelled from the party?

This is always a tricky subject. Local parties can become deeply divided over the fate of their estranged MP (who can often be like family to long-serving members) while party chiefs need to make a careful judgement about the individual seat and whether claims of a personal following for the MP might translate into a personal vote if they were to stand as an independent.

The received wisdom, however, is that independents struggle, regardless of whether they are sitting MPs. In the 2017 election, Simon Danczuk received just 1.8% of the vote in his Rochdale seat, after he was expelled from the party.

Still, in a marginal seat the possibility that a former MP might stand, clattering into a new candidate and gifting the seat to another party, is very real. So how is Labour responding in those seats with MPs that have resigned or been forced out of the party?

In Sheffield Hallam, the deputy leader of Sheffield City Council, Olivia Blake, was recently selected as a replacement for the suspended Jared O’Mara from an all-women shortlist (AWS). This made sense, given the allegations against O’Mara for his juvenile sexist postings on social media. (A hipster university seat, Hallam is reputed to have the highest number of people with a Phd in the country).

However In Barrow and Furness, where John Woodcock resigned from the party following allegations – (and they are just allegations) of sexual misconduct – the party did not impose an AWS, selecting former soldier and Network Rail employee, Chris Altree, from an open shortlist on Saturday to defend Labour’s wafer-thin majority of just 209.

The process to select a candidate in Bury South is gathering pace, following the resignation of Ivan Lewis, the MP for the seat since 1997 and a former minister and frontbencher. Again, Lewis was suspended over allegations of sexual misconduct. With a majority of just 5965 – and with the Tories in a competitive second place – the party cannot afford to make a mistake with the process here.

Lewis is popular locally and party chiefs will be worried that if he stands as an independent, he will undoubtedly carry support among the large Jewish community, particularly in the context of Labour’s shambolic handling of anti-Semitism allegations in the party (the ostensible reason Lewis quit the party before Christmas). Uncut gathers the regional office is consulting with the constituency party about making the selection an AWS (which, as in Hallam, seems a sensible course).

The party still needs to decide what happens in Birkenhead to Frank Field. Like Lewis, Field resigned the whip over what he felt was the leadership’s inert response to dealing with antisemitism in the party. Seasoned insiders on Merseyside insist that if he resigns and triggers a by-election ahead of the next general election, Field would win, such is the affinity he has with traditional working-class voters in the seat and vice versa. Whether this is true, remains moot, but any contest would be messy and divisive, especially given the rancour that already exists inside the local Wirral party.

Finally, there’s Peterborough, where Fiona Onasanya was last week jailed for lying about a speeding offence. Although so far refusing to resign her seat, it seems inconceivable she would survive a recall petition. In a seat with a slender 607 majority, picking the right candidate becomes absolutely critical to any hope off retaining the seat.

Given calls from the left for the mandatory selection of all Labour MPs – which is, in effect, the deselection of many – the risk that defeated MPs would stand for their old seats, depriving the party of seats it should otherwise win, is very real and should give eager Corbynistas pause for thought.

Tags: , , , , ,

10 Responses to “The party needs to tread carefully replacing its estranged MPs”

  1. Alf says:

    Reselections are difficult but it’s good to see the worst of the Tory entryists finally being ejected from Labour.

  2. John P Reid says:

    I feel the opinion polls are right the libdems will win back Sheffield,and the torries abarrow and furness, anyway

  3. Anne says:

    I think part of the problem here is that we have got some very mediore MPs and selection of candidates should be more vigorous. MPs should lead by example – be whiter than white. Fiona has proven to have done wrong and she should do the honourable thing and resign. Frank Field, however, has been a good MP and I am disappointed he has felt he needed to leave the Labour Party – I agree – he could win this seat as an independent.
    John Woodcock has also been a good MP. Yes Barrow in Furness is the home of Trident nuclear sub, which Corbyn is opposed too, but it is Labour Party policy to proceed with the building of this sub. Again, I think John’s resignation from the Labour Party could pose a problem for Labour in Barrow – he only had a small majority.
    There has also been talk of the formation of a new ‘Centralist’ party. I am not sure how successful this would be. Although many European countries operate in coalition. If there is an election is June I could see Labour forming a coalition with the SNP and the Lib Dem’s.

  4. Jhn P reid says:

    I backed Liz Kendall,although I disagree with her on the EU and with the deputy leadersahip, after my first choice got knocked pout, my Second Choice, Tom watson beat Caroline Flint, I’d voted for David Lammy but when He lost I managed to persuade both Rod liddle and Maurice to give positive articles in papers such as the Spectator for sadiq, Now I feel Some of the people who backed Caroline with her last vestiges of Blairism, has seen Caroline become a lot more Euro skeptic than they were lead to believe,and feel surprised, this maybe Caorline having seen the view of her local electorate ,has gone with this Because it electorally makes sense, I must say I’m still a fan, even though I didn’t vote for her

    at the same time David Lammy was 6 years ago suggesting building on trhe Green belt and moviung Golf courses that were next to Train stations to the middle of no where, and Questioning was their a lnk beytween 1 in 4 Black families had an Abscentee father, and Knife Crime in the African Carribean communities, I over heard 5years ago two ladies who are Labour MP’s now, close to him discussing to deslect him and as Mometum ,has now taken over hi sconstituency ,the David LAmmy of 5 years ago who during the Riots was careful not to share stages with lee jasper or Stafford scott is now sucking up to them denoiucning Rod Liddle who had written an Article questioning Abscentee fathers in Afro Carribean Communiteds and the rise in stabbbings inBlack communitees, saying Liddle was race batinig in his article, yet Lammy had said the same, no question of LAmmy having denociunce dhis previous views, I can only make the comparison that hile I suggested Caroline was worried what working class brexitersmade so she’s no in favour of controlling immigration, LAmmy is afraid of mpomentum deslecting him, so he’s now sharing stages with race baiters Like lee jasper, peoples he’d previously not platformed

  5. John P Reid says:

    Secretary of David Lammys Seat on Lyicisns Berger not being bullied by her local party, this is what Lammy has to put up with

  6. Anne says:

    I think David Lammy always speaks well – I think he would of made a very good Mayor for London. Rob Liddell, on the other hand writes some awful articles in the Sunday Times – most are very opinionated and rude – I have now stopped reading his articles they are just so bad. He is not alone in the poor quality of journalism that is being presented to us, especially on a Sunday. It is time some of these hacks were replaced. We need some quality investigative journalism – is the cost of the HS2 train development worth the cost? What has been the cost of Brexit?
    I also think the Sunday Mail and the comic paper, the Daily Mail, should also get a grip – absolute rubbish journalism – time for some new blood here as well.
    A nice little daily paper is The i – great little read, but unfortunately does not do a Sunday paper. Manchester is to start a Sunday newspaper – May try this.

  7. John P Reid says:

    Anne a newspaper has different views Tory you, so should be replaced?
    I agree the Mail, is awful, after the completely disgraceful articles that 3 men still innocent by law of Killing Stephen Lawrence were guilty, knowing full wellrhey couldn’t afford to sue, there’s plenty of otherpole police know have committed murders, where there’s not enough evidence to convict, but no newspaper including the voice has ever carried the headline the people the police know did it but haven’t the evidence to convict, similar the Mail also said Colin staff killed RachelNickel after being cleared, was guilty after all, then it tuned out it was Robert Napier

    Although give the independent credit, they did back the Tories in the 2015 election, lol , but then the guardian backed the libdems in 2010

    Actually the Sunday times was the first paper to twice have articles on the Muslim grooming gangs back in 2000′ before Ann cryer MP and channel 4 dispatches picked up on this a year later, then it was ignored by everyone, for 15 years ,and those talking about it were called racist,

  8. anon says:

    David Lammy is a hypocritical train wreck – but he’s far from alone there.

    How any Labour MP can spout their virtuous rubbish on refugees when they fully supported Blair’s ‘Progressive’ intervention into other countries is beyond me.

    Mr Lammy has also been very vociferous in condemning voter I.D. but, when in government, was all for I.D. cards – complete with iris scans and fingerprints – being foisted upon the UK people.

    When Caroline Flint came out on the side of her constituents regarding the EU Leave vote I immediately put a fiver on her becoming the next Labour leader.

    Let the pro-EU abomination supporters go and form another party; let’s have the party of Shore, Castle, Foot, and Benn back – I’m not much on the socialism business, but their sentiments on the European Union were sound IMHO.

  9. John P Reid says:

    Anon, not sure if I’ve put this before but, a lot of the Blairites like Michael Cashman , Steven Kinnock who backed Caroline to stop Tom Watson, now are glad she’s lost as they felt she was a Blairite and now she’s realized to keep her seat she has to be a brexiter, she’s lost some of her support, they’ll do everything to get Emily thornberry to beat her in a leadership bid, on,y way she’ll win is if John McDonnell wanted her to

  10. anon says:

    Thornberry would be a massive mistake – the white van man outside of London’s inner cabal won’t vote for Labour with her as leader.

    Looking at ALL political parties now, it is hard to see anybody who demands respect or affection.

    Strange times.

Leave a Reply