Labour selection battles in Yorkshire constituencies heat up ahead of expected general election

Hull North MP Diana Johnson. Photo: JPI Media
Hull North MP Diana Johnson. Photo: JPI Media
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Tensions are rising in Yorkshire constituencies as Labour continues to decide who will stand for the party in an upcoming general election.

The selection process was fast tracked when it became clear an election may be called before - or shortly after - Christmas.

And Diana Johnson, MP for Hull North, became the first to be triggered under Labour’s new rules which mean just a third of local branches needed to vote to deselect a candidate for it to happen.

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “These fast-tracked selection processes are the only way to ensure democratic selections in such a short space of time. Members will democratically select their candidates with local members on the shortlisting panels.

“An election could be round the corner, so we are moving quickly to make sure we have candidates and campaigns ready to go to defeat the Tories so we can end austerity and transform society."

Labour members can trigger a vote if they do not want their current MP to run as their candidate in a general election - and Ms Johnson said in her case this amounted to just 16 people.

Six Labour MPs have since been caught by the process, but they will automatically be included for selection alongside other candidates.

In Hull North, Hull Live reported Aneesa Akbar, Laura Dean, and Alexandra Arnell will be up against Ms Johnson, with the shortlist being announced today. Hustings will then be held next week.

The website reported that sources close to the contest believed it would end up as a battle between Momentum-backed Ms Akbar and Ms Johnson.

Meanwhile in Rother Valley, where Sir Kevin Barron has been the MP for 36 years, three councillors who put themselves forward to replace did not make the long list.

Sir Kevin announced earlier this year he would not stand again and local councillors Gordon Watson, Dominic Beck, and Amy Brookes had all put their names forward for consideration.

But when hopefuls were contacted to say they had made the long list, none of the trio got the call, prompting fears someone would be parachuted in to the marginal seat.

However it is understood there are local candidates on the long list.

A Labour source said: "The purpose of longlists is to narrow the field so clearly not everyone can be on that list. This is a hotly contested seat with many high-quality applications and of course unsuccessful candidates will be disappointed. Obviously if we didn't narrow them down, we would never pick a single candidate."

Mr Watson, who is Deputy Leader of Rotherham Council, said: “To a degree it’s politics. When I first found out I was upset, you know Deputy Leader of the council you’d think would bea good candidate, but I’ve not made the longlist and there’s no appeal procedure, it’s not like a normal job.”

While Mr Beck, a councillor for Wales ward, said it was “disappointing” and added: “There’s lots of very capable and able people who have applied and I don’t just talk about me here, it’s just a shame not one of those people will be given even a chance.

“Whoever we get will have to work really hard at the stage. I think in different circumstances, if we were not expecting a General Election any time soon, the process would have been different, that would’ve allowed for more local candidates.”