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Labour Wakefield by-election candidate selection disrupted by walkout protest

LABOUR’S selection of a parliamentary by-election candidate in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, was disrupted today when local party officers staged a protest walkout.

The 16 officers, who announced their collective resignation on Thursday, accused Labour’s head office of manipulating the selection and forcing on local members two outside candidates they did not want, while excluding others.

Three potential candidates, including the deputy leader of Labour-run Wakefield Metropolitan District Council Jack Hemingway, were not even allowed onto the original longlist of candidates.

Wakefield Constituency Labour Party (CLP) secretary Paul Jowett accused national officials of riding roughshod over party rules governing the selection process and of blocking the party’s online communications system, preventing constituency officials from contacting local members.

The date of the poll is yet to be announced.

Once a Labour stronghold, the seat fell to the Tories in 2019, when voters elected Imran Ahmad Khan, who resigned last month after being convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old.

Mr Jowett told the Morning Star: “The list of candidates came from a selection panel of five people on which the constituency had only one seat, while the rule book says that we should have the majority of three.

“On Thursday evening, the national executive committee declared a shortlist of two.”

As a result, the 16-member CLP executive resigned.

The two candidates selected for the shortlist are from neighbouring Calderdale in West Yorkshire and London.

After the walkout, NHS worker Simon Lightwood, who had previously been rejected as a would-be candidate for Calder Valley, was selected.

Mr Jowett said the row could affect the outcome of the by-election.

He said: “It’s not just the members who want a local candidate. The general public of Wakefield are incensed.

“They wanted Jack Hemingway to be the next MP for Wakefield.”

A Labour spokesperson said the party was “really pleased” to have had “two fantastic candidates” on the shortlist.

The GMB union’s Yorkshire and North Derbyshire region said earlier that it would not endorse either of the two shortlisted candidates.

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