One of Labour’s London Assembly Members could end up being unable to defend her seat at next May’s elections if she loses a crucial vote of party members later this week.
Florence Eshalomi, who has represented the Lambeth & Southwark GLA constituency at since 2016, must secure the endorsement of Bermondsey & Old Southwark parliamentary constituency (CLP) members at their meeting on Thursday evening in order to secure automatic re-selection as Labour candidate for the City Hall seat.
New rules making it harder for AMs to be re-selected unopposed mean that if one third or more of the CLPs within a GLA constituency opt for an “open selection” to choose their Assembly candidate, the sitting AM can be challenged by others who would like to contest the seat.
Eshalomi has already won the endorsements of two of the five CLPs within her constituency – Vauxhall and Dulwich & West Norwood – but was defeated by members of Camberwell & Peckham CLP last week.
She had previously also lost at Streatham CLP, but the London Region asked for a re-run after concluding that the re-selection or “trigger ballot” process had not been followed correctly. It is understood that Streatham CLP was reluctant to do this and that there is now insufficient time to organise a fresh ballot for its next meeting, also on Thursday.
All CLP trigger ballot outcomes must be reported to the London region by noon on Friday (21 June), which means the Streatham vote is effectively void and that Eshalomi will definitely contest Lambeth & Southwark for Labour again next May if she gets the backing of Bermondsey & Old Southwark members.
Eshalomi, a contributor to On London like several other Labour AMs, sits on the Assembly’s transport and police and crime committees. She won Lambeth & Southwark in 2016 with a majority of 62,243 having become the candidate by winning an open selection contest to find a successor to Val Shawcross, who had chosen to stand down.
Her defeat in Camberwell & Peckham was by 46 votes to 33, according to the CLP’s Facebook page. Speakers in favour of an open selection are said by other meeting attendees to have included barrister Nick Wrack, who stood against local Labour MP Harriet Harman at the 2015 general election for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, and Deborah Hobson, who last year was among allies of Marc Wadsworth, a now former Labour activist who was expelled from the party following remarks he made about Jewish Labour MP Ruth Smeeth at the launch of Shami Chakrabarti’s report on antisemitism in Labour.
In a message to fellow Labour Group councillors, seen by On London, Southwark Council leader Peter John described himself as “shocked” by the Camberwell & Peckham decision, which he called “shameful”. John described Eshalomi, who has also been a Lambeth councillor, as “a young black working-class woman who has faced and overcome obstacles on her way to election” whose life with two young children “mirrors the lives and experiences of so many young women in our borough”. John praised her as “an eloquent and effective advocate and representative over the past three years”.
OnLondon.co.uk is dedicated to providing fair and thorough coverage of London’s politics, development and culture. The site depends on donations from readers and is also seeking support from suitable organisations. Read more about that here.