All six Labour constituency members of the London Assembly seeking re-election to the City Hall scrutiny body next year have been endorsed to fight their seats again, despite attempts by some Corbynite activists to force them to face challenges from other potential candidates.
Florence Eshalomi, the AM for Lambeth & Southwark, and Onkar Sahota, who represents Ealing & Hillingdon, came through crucial votes by members of local parliamentary constituency parties last week to ensure that they will automatically go forward to defend their City Hall seats next May, having previously lost individual CLP votes.
Unmesh Desai (City & East), Leonie Cooper (Merton & Wandsworth), Joanne McCartney (Enfield & Haringey) and Labour Group leader Len Duvall (Greenwich & Woolwich) were also re-selected, having completed a clean sweep of affirmative CLP nominations in so-called “trigger ballot” processes.
New rules for re-selecting sitting constituency AMs meant that if a third or more constituency memberships within the larger GLA constituency areas voted against their sitting AMs re-selection, that AM would be forced to win an ensuing selection race against other contenders to fight their seat.
Both Eshalomi and Sahota appeared at risk of potential deselection after losing CLP votes early on. However, Eshalomi was decisively affirmed by members of Bermondsey & Old Southwark CLP last week, following a reverse at the hands of Camberwell & Peckham members.
She had previously lost among Streatham Labour members too, but a re-run of their ballot ordered by the party’s London Region never took place. This meant Eshalomi secured the “affirmative nomination” she sought from three of the four CLPs whose ballots counted, taking her past the one third or more threshold.
Sahota, whose Assembly constituency contains six CLPs, had failed by a wide margin to secure the backing of Ealing Central & Acton Labour members, meaning that one more CLP defeat would have seen him “triggered”. However, he was successful with the other five CLPs in Ealing & Hillingdon.
Sitting AMs can also be triggered if a third or more of Labour-affiliated organisations, primarily trade unions, wish it, but this did not occur.
Attention will now turn to the selection of Labour candidates for the other eight London Assembly constituency seats, three are currently held by Labour AMs who have decided to stand down next year. They are Barnet & Camden, Brent & Harrow and North East (comprising the boroughs of Islington, Hackney and Waltham Forest).
There is widespread expectation that Momentum, the activist group formed to support the leadership of Labour nationally by Jeremy Corbyn, will campaign hard to install candidates to their liking for these seats. All but one position on the London Region executive was won by a candidate favoured by the Left at elections held in March.
The political complexion of the future Labour Group on the Assembly will also be influenced by the order in which candidates for the 11 Londonwide Assembly seats are placed. Labour holds three of these seats, which are allocated under a form of proportional representation. Two of these sitting AMs are standing down, and the third, Tom Copley, is seeking re-election. The higher a candidates position on the list, the better his or her chances of being elected.
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