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Let Corbyn stand, left demands

LET Jeremy Corbyn stand, left campaigners demanded today as Labour moved to select a new candidate in his Islington North constituency.

Labour’s leadership has imposed a rushed schedule to choose a candidate to fight the next election by June 1, with Sir Keir Starmer having decreed that the former party leader he once described as a ”friend” will not be allowed to represent the party.

Left MP John McDonnell said that “the wishes of the Labour Party members of Islington North should be respected and they should be allowed to select the candidate of their choice and that includes Jeremy Corbyn who has given his life to representing his community.”

Kate Dove, chairwoman of campaign group Momentum, commented: “Jeremy Corbyn has loyally represented the people of Islington North for over 40 years and remains a Labour member of more than 50 years.

“Labour members in Islington North should decide if they want Jeremy to continue as their Labour candidate, not Keir Starmer’s Westminster clique. Democracy demands it.”

Democracy is not top of the Labour leadership’s agenda in Islington, however. 

The national executive will not allow the local party to draw up the shortlist of candidates, but will impose one.

There will only be online hustings too and voting will be via the controversial Anonyvoter system, at the centre of allegations of vote-rigging by officials in other selections.

Two candidates declared ready to contest the seat today – railways author Christian Wolmar and ex-Trotskyist journalist Paul Mason, who has unsuccessfully bid for selection in four other constituencies over the last 18 months.

They may be joined by local councillor Praful Nargund, a private health entrepreneur, who is believed to be the leadership’s favourite. 

Culture warrior and former Fire Brigades Union official Paul Embery is also publicly mulling a run.

Whoever wins will likely have to fight to wrest the seat from Mr Corbyn, who has represented the area for 41 years. 

He is all-but certain to stand as an independent, and is likely to announce as much before long.

The local party, which has unanimously voted to support Corbyn, will be riven and several Islington councillors have indicated that they will support Corbyn’s re-election, which would also become a cause celebre for the wider left.

Corbyn has been suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party for more than three years after Sir Keir rowed back, under pressure from the right, on a deal to readmit him negotiated with then-Unite general secretary Len McCluskey after a row over his response to a report into Labour anti-semitism.

Asked on the Today Podcast if she thought Sir Keir was wrong about Jeremy Corbyn, Labour's Zarah Sultana said: “Yes, I do. Jeremy and Diane, both of them have devoted their life to the labour movement, have represented the Labour Party for decades, worked day-in, day-out to improve the lives of ordinary working class people.

"When they are not allowed back into the Labour Party but others like Natalie Elphicke are, that message is incredibly concerning.”

Islington North Labour Party itself issued a statement asking "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", which would include Jeremy Corbyn.

 

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