The former shadow minister Sam Tarry has been deselected as an MP by local Labour party members amid a bitter row in the Ilford South constituency.
Tarry, a former senior trade union official who helped organise Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign, lost the chance to contest the seat at the next election.
Members voted by 499 votes to 361 to select the leader of Redbridge council, Jas Athwal, at a hustings on Monday night, after every local branch in his constituency voted to trigger the full reselection proceedings.
Both sides had briefed that they were confident of victory. Tarry’s allies hoped his campaign has been boosted when he was sacked as a shadow transport minister in July after attending a picket line in support of RMT workers.
Labour said the dismissal was down to remarks in interviews he conducted on the picket lines about pay inflation that were not party policy.
Athwal, a close ally of several Labour MPs including Wes Streeting, was favourite for selection for the Ilford South seat in 2019, but was suspended over an allegation of sexual harassment shortly before the selection battle.
But Athwal was cleared of wrongdoing and claimed the complaint was malicious and his suspension politically motivated. Tarry won the selection battle during Athwal’s suspension and went on to be elected MP with a majority of more than 24,000. The circumstances of the selection process led to a deep split in the constituency party.
Tarry, who is in a relationship with Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, has alleged serious concerns about the conduct of the campaign against him to Labour HQ, claiming that he had discovered “ghost members” who had left the constituency or died.
Ahead of the selection meeting, Athwal’s allies said he was extremely confident that their campaign was organised enough to oust Tarry. The council leader has been backed by the Unison, Usdaw and Community trade unions. Tarry had the backing of major trade unions including Unite, CWU and Aslef.
In a statement after the meeting, Athwal said: “Ilford is my home, it is where I live, went to school and where my children all went to school.
“It is the only place I would ever want to represent. The opportunity to be the Labour candidate at the next election and be part of Keir Starmer’s winning team is a real honour.
“Today means Ilford can focus on the future and ensure that Westminster delivers for Ilford, that Ilford gets the investment it needs and deserves.”
Tarry is understood to be considering whether to challenge the result. In a statement on Monday night, he said: “I’m incredibly disappointed in this result, mostly for all my committed volunteers and the wonderful people of Ilford South. I intend to issue a further statement tomorrow on the process and outcome.”
Streeting, the shadow health secretary, whose Ilford North seat borders Tarry’s, has been an outspoken supporter of Athwal.
He said: “Jas will be a superb representative for Ilford South. His is an Ilford story – the boy who came from the Punjab and built an education, successful businesses, and a wonderful family here.
“He’s led Redbridge Labour to three unprecedented victories because he’s a local resident who fights as hard for our community as he would for his own family.”