Lewisham’s deputy mayor Janet Daby was selected yesterday to become Labour’s parliamentary candidate for the safe seat of Lewisham East, beating the Momentum-backed candidate.
Local Labour party members decided at a hustings on Saturday for their candidate in the Parliamentary by-election, which will take place on June 14.
The former MP Heidi Alexander triggered the election after she stood down from parliament on May 8 to become London Deputy Mayor for Transport. The seat has been a Labour stronghold since 1992 and Alexander gained a majority of 67.9 per cent in the 2017 election.
The other parties’ candidates for the seat are: Conservative Ross Archer, Liberal Democrat Lucy Salek, UKIP’s David Kurten, WEP’s Mandu Reid, For Britain leader Anne Marie Waters, Democrats and Veterans’ Massimo DiMambro and Official Monster Raving Loony Party leader, Howling Laud Hope.
Last week Labour released its first all-women, all-BME shortlist, consisting of Janet Daby, Brenda Dacres, Sakina Sheikh, and Claudia Webbe.
Dacres removed herself from the contest on Friday, one day before the vote, for health reasons.
It is with deep regret that I am withdrawing from the #LewishamEast selection contest due to recently diagnosed health reasons. This was not an easy decision – but it's the right one for me at this time. Thank you to everyone who has supported me since I was shortlisted. pic.twitter.com/pouYqCpTeR
— Brenda Dacres (@Brenda_Dacres) May 18, 2018
The grassroots Labour movement Momentum were quick to endorse Seikh, but urged members to give Webbe their second preference vote. Webbe was officially backed by the union Unite.
The result has been seen by some as a failure for Momentum.
The columnist Owen Jones said: “[Labour’s] right knew weeks before (maybe longer) that Heidi Alexander was standing down, giving them far longer to prepare.
“It’s also true that the right has decades of experience in stitching up Parliamentary selections.
“It’s worth emphasising that neither Momentum or Unite are homogenous. There were Unite people backing Sheikh and Momentum people backing Webbe. Both Unite and Momentum work very closely together: in the vast majority of parliamentary selections, they have campaigned for the same candidate.
“Without Momentum and Unite agreeing on one candidate — whether that be Webbe or Sheikh — neither had any real chance of winning.”
A local member said:
Daby won 288 of the members’ votes – 63% of the first preference votes – Seikh won 135 (29%), and Webbe 35 (8%).
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan went on twitter to congratulate Daby on her candidacy.
Congratulations @JanetDaby who has been selected as Labour's candidate in Lewisham East.
She has done an excellent job as Deputy Mayor and I know she will be a strong voice for the people of Lewisham East in Parliament. I look forward to campaigning with her in the by-election.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) May 19, 2018
Daby told The Independent: “It is such an honour to be selected to stand as Labour’s candidate for Lewisham East. This is my home and I know the issues that matter to people because they are the same issues that matter to me.
“We want a good hospital, we want decent affordable housing, we want a good education and fair opportunities for all our kids, we want a transport system that is fit for purpose, and we want to live in a safe welcoming borough where everyone can feel at home.
“I oppose a hard Brexit [and] I will fight for UK to remain in the customs union and the single market. Leaving the customs union and single market will have a disastrous effect on the economy and, as usual, it will be the poorest who suffer the most.
“I have lived in Lewisham East for 22 years. I have friends and family that live in my constituency and I’ve been clear about my position on Brexit from the outset of the campaign. I would not put myself in a situation in which I have to make the short journey back from Westminster knowing that I have just voted to make the residents of my community poorer.”