Sam Tarry deselected as MP by Ilford South Labour members

Jas Athwal, leader of Redbridge council, wins hustings vote by 499 to 361 after constituency triggered reselection

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.

Jas Athwal will fight the seat for labour after he was selected ahead of Sam Tarry.
Jas Athwal – selected ahead of Sam Tarry. Photograph: Andy Hall/The Observer

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.”


Jessica Elgot Deputy political editor

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
‘Crestfallen’ Sam Tarry calls for vote audit after deselection as MP
Ex-shadow minister demands Labour release names of those who cast electronic votes in Ilford South seat

Jessica Elgot Deputy political editor

11, Oct, 2022 @9:43 AM

Article image
Local elections: Labour must take advantage of changing demographics
Analysis: party allegiances are shifting all over England and Keir Starmer has to ensure he makes the most of favourable trends

Jessica Elgot Deputy political editor

04, May, 2021 @6:59 PM

Article image
Labour has a radical new plan, but will Keir Starmer dare stick to it?
Leader wants to ‘return power to where it should be’ but some in his own team are reluctant to expend the political capital

Pippa Crerar Political editor

05, Dec, 2022 @7:23 PM

Article image
Labour would freeze council tax for one year, says Keir Starmer
Party leader says Labour would use windfall tax profits to stop rises, as local election campaign begins

Aletha Adu

30, Mar, 2023 @3:18 PM

Article image
Keir Starmer vows to clean up British politics after Tory sleaze rows
Labour leader plans to link reports of corruption and cronyism to effect on ordinary people as elections near

Jessica Elgot Deputy political editor

03, May, 2021 @9:30 PM

Article image
Labour easily holds on to Stretford and Urmston in byelection
Andrew Western wins with a majority of 9,906 with promise to fight for properly funded public services

Helen Pidd North of England editor

16, Dec, 2022 @2:55 AM

Article image
How Boris Johnson’s Conservatives lost their grip on London
Labour turfed out the Tories in former strongholds, while the Tories failed to make hoped-for inroads

Aubrey Allegretti, Amelia Hill and Matthew Weaver

06, May, 2022 @4:51 PM

Article image
Labour loses control of council strongholds of Bolton and Darlington
Party cedes power to Tories in northern cities for first time in 40 years after local elections

Josh Halliday and Helen Pidd

10, May, 2019 @11:58 AM

Article image
Make May elections in England more Covid-safe, Labour urges
A Cabinet Office document has warned that millions could be put off voting by safety fears

Peter Walker and Severin Carrell

17, Jan, 2021 @12:44 PM

Article image
Labour set for huge election defeat in Hartlepool, internal polling suggests
Exclusive: Party’s own figures show only 40% of previous supporters pledge to back its candidate this time

Josh Halliday North of England correspondent

04, May, 2021 @4:50 PM