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Ilford South Labour Party members demand right to select own parliamentary candidate ‘regardless of their race or gender’

PUBLISHED: 13:22 28 February 2019 | UPDATED: 13:22 28 February 2019

Redbridge's Labour candidates. Photo: Josie Torrice

Redbridge's Labour candidates. Photo: Josie Torrice

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Ilford South Labour members are calling for their party’s leadership to give them the right to select their own parliamentary candidate “regardless of their race or gender”.

Executive officers of Ilford South’s Constituency Labour Party (CLP) have written to their National Executive Committee (NEC) calling for “open selections”.

This comes after incumbent Ilford South MP Mike Gapes resigned from the party a week ago, citing Brexit and antisemitism.

“We ask that our NEC respect the right of Ilford South members to choose who will represent us in Parliament,” the letter reads.

The letter calls for three things:

- That “our active membership is given the right to elect our own selection committee, made up of local people who have long supported Labour in Ilford South”.

- “That the selection remains open, so our members are given the opportunity to select the very best local candidate regardless of their race or gender”.

- “For the freedom and agency to ensure our next Labour MP reflects the values and diversity of our constituency”.

The Recorder understands that there are two processes by which Labour selects parliamentary candidates.

The first sees the NEC form selection committees composed entirely of NEC members, who shortlist candidates. A winner is then elected by CLP members.

This is typically done in by-elections and was used in the 2017 snap general election.

The second sees CLP members elect their own selection committee, formed of CLP members and one NEC rep.

This committee forms a shortlist of candidates and a winner is again elected by CLP members.

Streatham Labour, the seat of MP Chuka Ummuna who resigned alongside Mr Gapes, has issued a letter echoing Ilford South’s concerns.

It is calling for a debate on whether the NEC should impose a women-only shortlist of candidates.

The Labour Party’s constitution allows for the NEC to impose women-only shortlists.

However, the NEC does not have the power to require all candidates to be from black or minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds or that they live in their constituency, the Recorder understands.

The Labour Party press office did not respond to the Recorder’s request for comment.

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