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Labour Takes Direct Control Of Selection To Replace Jeremy Corbyn In Islington North

Jeremy Corbyn MP speaking at Stop Rwanda demo in May 2024

3 min read

Labour has decided to take direct control of the selection race that will determine who replaces former party leader Jeremy Corbyn as the parliamentary candidate in Islington North, PoliticsHome understands.

Corbyn, who was leader of the Labour party from 2015-2020, has been MP for Islington North since 1983, but has sat as an independent since 2020 when his successor Keir Starmer expelled him as a Labour MP over his response to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)'s report into antisemitism within the party. In March 2023, he was formally banned from standing as Labour's candidate for the next general election, which must be called before the end of this year.

Now in a change to the usual selection process, the shortlist of candidates for the seat will be drawn up by Labour’s ruling national executive committee (NEC) rather than a selection committee that includes local members.

Both the hustings and the voting will be held online, which party insiders say will make it easier for officials to control the process and avoid interventions from vocal objectors to Corbyn's exclusion. 

In May last year the Islington North local party passed a motion thanking their local MP for his service and expressing that "it should be our democratic right to select our MP". It was passed with 60 votes in favour, none against and one abstention.

The speedy timetable for the Islington North selection set by the Labour Party saw applications open on Wednesday. The short window for applicants closes on Monday 20 May.

The shortlist will be announced to members on 23 May, ballots sent out on 24 and 25 May, and virtual hustings held on 29 May. The result of the contest will be revealed on Saturday 1 June.

The process will involve Anonyvoter, a system that facilitates online voting, despite criticisms from Labour left MPs and trade union general secretaries who have called for its use to be banned amid claims it lacks transparency and has been used to favour candidates preferred by the leadership.

A Labour Party spokesperson said in response to The Telegraph’s reporting on the Anonyvoter row that the party has “full confidence in the integrity” of the system.

A Labour left source told PoliticsHome: "They know the local party want Jeremy so they're essentially stage managing the whole thing: shortlisting by the NEC not the local party as is custom, everything online so no chance for people to kick up a fuss, and to top it off using the dodgy voting software too. Major league stitch-up."

Rail expert Christian Wolmar and former BBC journalist Paul Mason have both confirmed they will be applying for the candidacy. Praful Nargund, an Islington Labour councillor, is thought to be a likely contender but has not made a public statement so far.

Corbyn, who is currently a Labour member but not a member of the Parliamentary Labour Party, is widely expected to stand again as an independent.

The NEC has final approval on Labour candidates and confirmed that it would be blocking him as a candidate in a motion passed by 22 votes to 12 last year. It stated his inclusion would "significantly diminish" the likelihood Labour would win the next general election.

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