Sam Tarry: Ilford South MP loses Labour Party deselection vote to council leader Jas Athwal
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Ilford South MP and former cabinet minister Sam Tarry described himself as “crestfallen” after being deselected by the Labour party in a contest with rival Jas Athwal.
Members voted by 499 votes to 361 to select Mr Athwal over Mr Tarry to be their representative for Ilford South, in Redbridge, east London, after all branches in the constituency voted to trigger the reselection process.
It comes after Mr Tarry was suspended by the Labour Party after joining a picket line in support of RMTworkers in July when he was serving as shadow transport minister - after leader Sir Keir Starmer had instructed his front bench to avoid appearing alongside striking workers.
Mr Tarry tweeted a statement on this morning (Tuesday, October 11) asking the party to release the electronic voting data from the election process, saying he was “extremely concerned” about the results.
He said: “I am utterly crestfallen by the result in the Ilford South selection last night.
“Not for myself, but for the good people of Ilford who deserve better than to have been at the centre of a manufactured political circus.”
He added that he was “taking some time to consider what’s next, but in order to be assured of the integrity of the result I am asking the party to share with me the full information of who cast electronic votes, by what method and when they were cast”.
He said: “I will continue to represent the people of Ilford South the way I have done for the past three years - with integrity, generosity and inclusivity.”
Redbridge council leader Mr Athwal will now stand in the seat for Labour at the next election, having previously been the favourite to be selected in the seat in 2019 before a sexual misconduct allegation saw him suspended by the party.
Mr Athwal denied the claim and successfully saw it dismissed, while arguing his suspension was politically motivated, but was unable to stand in the constituency selection which was eventually won by Mr Tarry, 40.
The two candidates represent very different wings of the Labour party, with Mr Athwal particularly close to Ilford North MP and shadow health secretary Wes Streeting, who is seen as a strong figure on the party’s right.
While Mr Tarry is a prominent member of the Labour left, having previously worked on former leader Jeremy Corbyn’s 2016 election campaign, and is widely understood to be dating deputy leader Angela Rayner.
His challenge to the legitimacy of the result was dismissed by an ally of Mr Athwal according to the Guardian, with the source referring to the former minister as “a pound shop Donald Trump”.
Father of four Mr Athwal said Monday’s vote meant that the constituency could move on, saying: “Ilford can focus on the future and ensure Westminster delivers for Ilford, that Ilford gets the investment it needs and deserves.”
A spokesperson for Ilford South Labour tweeted: “Congratulations Jas Athwal, Labour’s candidate for Ilford South!
“After twelve years of cuts and chaos under a Tory government, you will be a powerful voice in Parliament for local people and continue to be a strong champion for our community.”
Of his campaign to become Labour’s candidate, Mr Athwal previously said: “I have a vision for Ilford South – nothing will hold me back from delivering that vision.
“Ilford is my home. The only place I want to represent — to serve my neighbours, my community, you.
“I don’t want to win for me, I want to win for us.”
Supporter Mr Streeting added: “Huge congratulations to Jas Athwal, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Ilford South.
“A self-made man who came to Ilford from the Punjab and built successful businesses, a wonderful family, and unprecedented Labour victories in Redbridge. Proud to be one of his deputies.
“I look forward to working with Jas as Ilford South’s next Labour MP.”