Former Kensington and Chelsea MP Emma Dent Coad has been blocked from standing to represent the constituency again. According to her, this is due to “factional intrigue” in the Labour Party.
In a statement, the former MP has said trade union backing should have seen her longlisted in the selection process, but the candidate selection process is now being factionally abused and is not fit for purpose.
This Writer recalls her outspokenness on behalf of the people of Kensington after the inferno that rendered Grenfell Tower uninhabitable – a fire that was entirely preventable, caused by the installation of entirely unsuitable cladding.
Here’s her statement:
“I am devastated that the Labour Party has blocked me from standing to once again represent my community in Parliament, the community I have spent the last 20 years of my life fighting for. At the same time, I am angry that local members and our local community in Kensington have been denied the opportunity to vote in a free and fair contest, which has been sacrificed for the sake of factional intrigue.
“This campaign has never been about me. I stood to offer dedicated representation for the people of Kensington in Parliament, from someone who knows and cares for our communities. From my role as local councillor and Labour Group leader, to my campaigning efforts as Kensington’s MP on housing issues so dear to our hearts, I have only ever sought the chance to champion our people, whose voices all too often go unheard.
“If I have been outspoken in my politics, it is due to my passion and care for Kensington – for my neighbours and friends – and because of my burning desire to stamp out injustice and build a fairer, more equal society. Upsettingly, unaccountable Labour officials have exploited this outspokenness to unjustly prevent me from standing for the seat I won just five years ago, the seat I came agonisingly close to holding even in 2019, despite the trade union backing which should have seen me longlisted automatically. It is plan as day that the candidate selection process now being run by the Party is being factionally abused and is not fit for purpose.
“I deplore injustice, and through my 16 years on the Council, various reports and my recent book, ‘One Kensington’, I have done my utmost not only to draw attention to the very real inequalities in our community but to actively fight it, from the council chamber to the House of Commons. Above all, my driving ambition has been to combat the inequality which scars our community, the systematic disregard for working-class people which led to the atrocity of the Grenfell Tower fire, and which has led many to lose faith with the political process.
“These people deserve and need representation in Parliament. I hope that Labour’s eventual candidate will gain the respect and trust of all communities in Kensington. It won’t be easy.”
The Guardian reports that the former MP, who was a member of the Socialist Campaign Group, the Corbyn-loyal wing of the parliamentary Labour party, was the target of a number of stories in the tabloids during her time as an MP:
They included a string of stories on the London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey whom she had called a “token ghetto boy” and “scumbag”.
Labour sources said Dent Coad had been served with a “due diligence” dossier and met with officials on Friday evening. As well as some of the tabloid news stories about Dent Coad’s criticism of Conservatives and the royal family, officials expressed concern that Dent Coad had spoken at Stop the War Coalition demonstrations, though the group has not been officially proscribed.
So: hearsay and activity that is not prohibited. That’s not a good look for Labour officials.
A Labour source said that selection procedures were stringent and involved high levels of due diligence. “It’s right that the Labour party expects prospective MPs to uphold the highest standards. Under Keir’s leadership that’s not going to change,” the source said.
The report goes on to state that the exclusion is one of a number where leftwingers have been excluded from a list of candidates:
Maurice McLeod, a Labour councillor and longstanding anti-racism campaigner, said he had been disallowed from contesting the Camberwell and Peckham seat.
In Sedgefield, the seat of former prime minister Tony Blair that Labour lost to the Tories in 2019, 13 constituency officials resigned in protest after the CLP chair was blocked from standing after making a series of critical social media comments about Starmer. The candidate, Paul Daly, has resigned from the party.
Earlier this week, Sam Tarry, the MP for Ilford South, was deselected by his local party in favour of the Redbridge council leader, Jas Athwal, in the culmination of a long-running local dispute.
It seems the frontrunner to be Labour’s candidate for the seat at the next general election is Mete Coban, a youth campaigner from Hackney who founded the My Life My Say campaign.
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