Jeremy Corbyn ally among all-female and all-BME Lewisham East by-election shortlist

Posted On: 
14th May 2018

A close ally of Jeremy Corbyn is among four BME women in the running to be the next Labour MP for Lewisham East.

Claudia Webbe will fight for the support of local Lewisham East members
Credit: 
PA Images

Islington councillor Claudia Webbe made the final shortlist to become the Labour candidate in next month’s by-election.

She was joined on the list by Lewisham councillors Sakina Sheikh and Brenda Dacres, as well as local deputy mayor Janet Daby.

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Local members will vote on Saturday for who they want to go forward and fight the by-election on 14 June, where Labour will be defending a majority of more than 21,000.

It was called following the resignation last week of former Shadow Health Secretary Heidi Alexander.

The four were selected by three-strong panel of women from the ruling Labour National Executive Committee.

Ms Webbe is the only candidate from outside the constituency, but her closeness to the Labour leadership is thought to put her in good standing.

However if she secures the nomination and goes on to win the by-election, she will have to give up her place on Labour’s ruling national executive committee for a more moderate activist.

Her loss would be a blow for the party’s left, wing, which currently holds the balance of power on the powerful body.

Ms Sheikh was initially seen as the Momentum candidate until UK Black Pride founder Phyll Opoku-Gyimah threw her hat into the ring.

But Ms Opoku-Gyimah dramatically dropped out of the race on Sunday, citing family reasons and throwing the contest wide open.

Despite voting for Mr Corbyn in his two leadership contests, Ms Daby is seen by some across the fractured party as the candidate who could win the backing of the local Labour moderates.

The shortlist is something of a victory for female Labour MPs, who penned a letter to the leadership today demanding a woman replaces Ms Alexander as the MP.

The memo, organised by Shadow Equalities Secretary Dawn Butler, said Labour “must ensure we maintain our current balance in terms of gender representation”.

It added: “Labour is the only party which takes women’s representation seriously. We have more female MPs than all the other parties combined.

“In order to continue our success we urge you to support our call that the next candidate for Lewisham East should be a woman.”

The Lewisham East constituency Labour Party today announced its own shortlist of four local candidates, including Ms Daby and Ms Dacres.

As he announced the names, local CLP chair and former Tony Blair aide Ian McKenzie issued a thinly-veiled swipe at the centralised selection process.

Ms Alexander quit her job last week to take up the role of London's deputy mayor for transport - prompting a summer by-election.

She was Shadow Health Secretary from when Jeremy Corbyn took over as leader in September 2015, before quitting in June the following year amid a string of resignations in the party.

She chaired the 2016 leadership challenge by Owen Smith and most recently has campaigned against official Labour policy on Brexit.