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.Sam Tarry (centre) surrounded by local Labour Party members

Sam Tarry wins Ilford South re-run

LABOUR PARTY members in the Ilford South constituency have chosen Sam Tarry to be their candidate at the next General Election. The selection is subject to endorsement by Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC), which is thought to be a formality.

Tarry greeted the news by saying that he was “honoured” to have been chosen and thanked those who had voted for him. He pledged to work with all residents and all communities in the constituency if elected to Parliament.

Tarry collected over 50% of the vote on the first round of voting. He has been closely associated with the office of popular Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and is known as an active campaigner against racism. However, he will have to prove himself before he is universally accepted.

A photograph released by Ilford South CLP (above) shows Tarry standing amid a crowd of (mostly male) BAME Labour Party members, and many had hoped that Labour’s selection process would lead to a BAME candidate being chosen. Ilford has long been a white majority area, but its demographics have been changing in recent years and it now hosts many BAME communities.

The vote should have been held earlier this month but was postponed when leading contender Cllr Jas Athwal, Leader of Redbridge Council, was suspended the evening before. The suspension came as “serious allegations” made against Cllr Athwal have to be heard, but the allegations were made some time ago, and the timing of the suspension has left many members feeling uneasy.

When the General Election comes, Tarry will have to rally his troops to fight off challenges from the sitting MP Mike Gapes and the Liberal Democrats. He starts from a high base – Labour won over 75% of the vote at the 2017 General Election.

Labour was selecting a new candidate because the sitting MP, Mike Gapes, who had been the constituency’s Labour MP since 1992, resigned from the Labour Party in February. Gapes resigned as a protest against Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn – a protest which appears to have had a more negative effect on Gapes than on Corbyn. Gapes joined the Independent Group of MPs, which later changed its name to “Change”. Change is less a political party of the open door variety and more one of the revolving door kind – spewing out MPs to other political parties and the general political wilderness almost as fast as it sucked them in.

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