Labour selects candidate to compete in Wakefield by election

Simon Lightwood has been chosen as the Labour candidate who will stand in the upcoming Wakefield by-election.

The NHS worker, who has lived in Wakefield and been a Labour member for 20 years, was chosen over trade unionist Kate Dearden by local members today.

Mr Lightwood, who said it is “an honour” to be selected, is tasked with winning back the seat which Labour held for 89 years until the 2019 General Election.

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A by-election will be held as Tory Imran Ahmad Khan resigned earlier this month, after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy in January 2018.

Mr Lightwood said: “We have a lot to be proud of in Wakefield, and a huge amount of strength and resilience in our communities, but the Conservatives and their disgraced MP Imran Ahmad Khan have failed us.

“Times are much tougher than they should be for hardworking people across our constituency. We are in a cost of living crisis, and in Wakefield, real wages will fall by £1,100 this year on average because of spiralling inflation.

“It’s time we sent a clear message to Boris Johnson that enough is enough, because Wakefield and the country deserve so much better.

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Labour's Simon Lightwood will compete in the upcoming Wakefield by-election

“I will fight tooth and nail for our hard working communities. Wakefield deserves a fresh start, and someone who is going to be their voice at Westminster, help people through the cost of living crisis, fix our broken transport system and ensure people feel safe on our streets. ”

“Wakefield has been without an MP and a voice at Westminster for over a year. The Conservatives now need to call this by-election so local people can finally get the representation they deserve.”

It comes after the entire executive committee of Wakefield’s local Labour group resigned in a row over the party’s candidate selection.

The constituency Labour Party’s executive said quit en masse in protest, as they “asked for local candidates, but there are none”.

Concerns were raised after several well-known local politicians, including Wakefield Council deputy leader Jack Hemingway, were left off the short list.

Labour had held Wakefield since the 1930s, until Khan claimed a surprise victory in the 2019 General Election – beating Mary Creagh by 3,358 votes.

It is one of the so-called Red Wall seats which were lost during Labour’s crushing defeat and Sir Keir Starmer has said his party is determined to win it back.

The Conservative Party has not selected its candidate yet and no date for the election can be set until a written order has been issued by the Government.

Khan has appealed against his conviction for sexual assault, but is still due to be sentenced on May 23.