Analysis News

Excl: left hopeful for seat vacated by Gapes quits contest – to swing behind RIGHT-winger

Bizarre development in Ilford South candidate race
Sonia Klein and Jas Athwal

One of two left hopefuls to become Labour’s candidate in the Ilford South constituency – vacated by the departure of Mike Gapes to the TIG/CUK party – has quit the contest in an email sent to members yesterday.

And in a bizarre twist, Sonia Klein has asked members to back Redbridge council leader Jas Athwal – the leading right-wing prospect for the candidacy:

The start of Sonia Klein’s email to Ilford South members

Explaining her decision in the email, Ms Klein states that:

I have met with Jas to discuss his policy positions including the Middle East, Kashmir, Nuclear, Climate Change, Housing, Crime, the NHS and Brexit. We agree on most issues, other than renewal of Trident – I’ll work on that! I’m not aligned politically with some of his endorsees but I believe it is time for unity…

Jas fights for Labour values and for Jeremy to lead us to victory.  He is not a cog of the political machinery and has spent his entire life in Redbridge working to make life better for local people.

However, Mr Athwal is one of the ‘centrist’ councillors who published a widely-reported letter in 2016 calling on Jeremy Corbyn to resign as Labour leader – and has been endorsed by right-wing Labour MPs Tom Watson and Wes Streeting.

Labour is also investigating a complaint that one of his supporters was handing out membership cards in bulk outside the Seven Kings Ward branch nomination meeting – a meeting whose results were ultimately annulled by the party – and that while the cards were genuine, the members were not. There were complaints of intimidatory behaviour on the part of some attendees at the meeting.

Left-wing prospective candidate Sam Tarry

The SKWAWKBOX contacted Ms Klein for comment on her decision. She responded with some of the same information included in the email to members and added:

Some are wondering why I am supporting a candidate perceived to be on “the right” — especially given he has been endorsed by Tom Watson and Wes Streeting… I did not find the right wing ogre I was expecting.

I challenged [Jas] on his support of Owen Smith and the infamous letter signed by he and other councillors. Jas explained that he did not believe at that time that Jeremy could lead us to victory, but he was proved wrong.

He also said that he has talked to Jeremy about this directly and is now a believer. I asked about his endorsements [by Watson and Streeting], he said he thought he needed some establishment endorsees [sic] but went to great lengths to make the case that he is his own man…

The community is diverse and needs a Leader who will hold them together and beat Mike Gapes in the next election. Jas Athwal is the only candidate that can do this.

It was also clear from Ms Klein’s comments that she has issues with Momentum.

A video showing endorsements for left-wing candidate Sam Tarry

The other left candidate in the contest is Sam Tarry, Jeremy Corbyn’s former leadership campaign director and a director of Momentum. Tarry has the backing of several unions, including Unite, of close Corbyn ally Jon Trickett – and of the local Sikh Gurdwara.

Mr Athwal was contacted for comment.

The Ilford South hustings and candidate selection take place on Saturday.


Jas Athwal claims to be a convert to the Corbynism, yet even if his history as an anti-Corbyn councillor is discounted, Watson and Streeting – two ardent opponents of Jeremy Corbyn – have happily endorsed him. In addition, the complaints about events at Seven Kings meeting are troubling.

The SKWAWKBOX recommends that all Ilford South members attend Saturday’s hustings and vote for Sam Tarry. A candidate endorsed by Watson and Streeting is not an option for any left-leaning member.

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    1. Blind sectarian loyalty?

      If so, it is more corrosive than good old-fashioned back-hander corruption and should have NO PLACE in Labour.

  1. Sam Tarry is a very able, trustworthy and unwavering pro Corbyn Labour activist,Socialist and Trade Unionist. He is a great speaker but more to the point he says what he means and is a genuine anti austerity candidate. I truly wish him well and hope he is selected to stand as a PPC for Ilford South-we need more people like him on the party benches in Westminister.
    In relation to Jas Athwal I accept that people can change their political outlook but if I lived in Ilford South I’d be looking for concrete evidence of Jas’s conversion to socialism before I considered voting for him as our PPC for the constituency.

  2. Why do we have to have momentum approved candidates or Watson approved…for me a former supporter and donnor to momentum I am genuinely suspicious.But I could never trust anyone with a Watson or screeching label,so we have to take a risk on him being Labour party before Israel?…broad church?

      1. “It was also clear from Ms Klein’s comments that she has issues with Momentum”. – don’t we all!

    1. “Why do we have to have momentum approved candidates or Watson approved”

      One begets the other

      and let’s be honest, LabourFirst- and ProgressLtd-influence is not just right-wing, it would make Labour an unelectable rump of toryism-with-a-smile. It happened to Scottish Labour.

  3. bait and switch is a consistent pattern …yes i am a corbyn supporter …oops i lied.

    its not what they say they are ..its what they have voted for and done that proves that they are.

    take no chances we cannot afford to let any more cuckoo’s become candidates.

      1. I would only vote for someone who has a history of supporting Jeremy Corbyn. People can always change their minds but I would want to see evidence of their support. Perhaps this is just all smoke and mirrors, people can change but I want to see the evidence of that change and how they would support Jeremy to be then next Prime Minister. Over in Birmingham our CLP have meetings in two weeks time to see if our MP will go through re-selection, I believe that she will not have any problems being re-elected.

  4. Its not clear to me why she gave up. As a ex Momentum member since resigned because of Lansmans dictatorial stance , I would be concerned at Tarry BUT his past history shows a Socialist supporter more so than Athwal. Plus for me the “support” of Screeching and Twatson sealed it why these two and not anyone else of standing ?
    I wish Tarry the best of luck in winning the PPL selection

  5. Sonia Klein…… of many selections, never selected. She has always struck me as a quisling.
    Guaranteed padding for selection lists.

    1. Well that throws a different light on the situation , I did contemplate if she had been a decoy placement to obscure and muddy the choice and landscape .Past examples of this activity would be useful for those with a vote in this CLP and IMO provides valuable antecedence for those unsure of Mr Athwal.
      It would , l conjecture , put into question anything she has said about Mr Athwal and his support for Corbyn.

    2. Hmm I would not trust any Anti Corbyn candidate claiming to have seen the light and support Corbyn. This is what happened with the election of the Mayor and now he shows his true colours.

  6. From what I know of Ilford which is a mostly asian community now, the candidate with the turban gets the vote by default. Nobody else will stand a chance. (Unless another asian candidate steps up)

  7. Have met Sam on a number of occasions,in my opinion he is an excellent candidate. Not sure it’s fair ,as has been suggested above,that Ilford is mostly Asian,it is a very diverse community,nor do I think it helpful to suggest all Asians are the same or will necessarily vote for a candidate simply on grounds of ethnicity.

  8. It characterises the frailty behind our exuberance of the state of the Left so very well. I am absolutely unconvinced by these latter day conversions. In my opinion this individual will be a cler let down once he has secured what he wants.

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