Council leader suspended over sexual harassment allegations was reinstated under Keir Starmer, now expected to replace Tarry as Iford South MP
Ilford South MP Sam Tarry – one of four left-wing MPs long known to be on the Labour right’s hit-list – has issued a statement on the result of the party’s ‘trigger’ process that will force him to face a reselection battle, accusing the party of colluding in ‘rule-breaking… voter fraud, voter impersonation, widespread voting by party members not on the electoral register and the dangerous whipping up of communal tensions’ to remove him.
The right’s aim to replace Tarry with factional favourite Jas Athwal has long been an open secret. Athwal was suspended by the party under Jeremy Corbyn following ‘serious’ allegations of sexual harassment, but quickly reinstated when Keir Starmer took over the party, with a right-dominated NEC panel deciding that Labour’s GLU (governance and legal unit) had failed to present sufficient evidence against him.
Athwal and his supporters, including Ilford North MP Wes Streeting, presented this as his exoneration. Streeting had reacted to Athwal’s suspension with outrage, despite the nature of the complaints against him, while Redbridge councillors, like Labour’s London regional office, had ‘circled the wagons’ to protect him and dismissed his accusers as ‘cranks’.
Tarry’s full statement reads:
Today I have submitted further evidence to the Labour Party of rule-breaking, concrete evidence of voter fraud, voter impersonation, widespread voting by party members not on the electoral register, and the dangerous whipping up of communal tensions to undermine the democratic reselection process in an attempt to unseat me as the sitting Member of Parliament. Several of the results in this process were by a small margin, which means I have little faith in the integrity of the outcome.
I have raised concerns consistently over the past few weeks and months with senior officials on the need for robust safeguards to be implemented to ensure a fair and democratic process, including proper checks on eligible participants, given historic allegations and recent convictions for electoral fraud of former Party office holders in llford South. All of my concerns not only went unheeded but the process was launched without consultation with myself, was completed just two weeks after that decision was taken, and was held entirely online without rigorous membership checks.
A number of trade union affiliates of the Labour Party raised concerns locally and nationally about the incredibly short timescale interfering with their internal democratic processes, and with evidence of malpractice and ballots not being received. The Labour Party grew from the trade union movement and we must always listen to, and involve, our trade union affiliates if we are to build a Party that can win a General Election.
For the past three years I’ve been subjected to some of the vilest smears. While many will say that is par for the course of being a politician, when those attacks are designed to dangerously whip up communal tensions in a diverse community – as well libellously insinuate that I in some way influenced the outcome of the selection that I won fairly against a sitting councillor and other candidates in 2019 – it is time to say enough is enough.
I have served as the longest-standing Shadow Minister of the 2019 Labour Party intake, and have held elected positions under four Labour leaders. I will always loyally work for a Labour General Election victory.
There is now a clear pattern of factional elements of the Party machine targeting socialist and trade union-backed candidates, whether that be in selections for target seats, or indeed sitting Members of Parliament.
I stand for a different sort of Party. One which is open, generous, and strong. One which engages and listens, and which is proud of its radical policies. One which is inclusive and representative of all of its members, and which has democracy at its heart. One which is proud of, and puts at its centre, its links with trade unions. That is why I have been targeted, but I will not give up that vision.
I welcome democracy, but for my local Party members to have faith in a fair process the seriousness of these concerns must be addressed.
Sam Tarry MP
Member of Parliament for llford South
Shadow Minister of State for Transport
Vote rigging in Redbridge Labour, where Ilford is situated, is not a new phenomenon. Early last year, former councillor Mohammed Iqbal was jailed for 17 months for electoral fraud. The party had not suspended him from membership or the council Labour group, even after he was charged with the criminal offence, despite local members complaining to the party for months about what he had been doing. The party even stepped in to ensure he was able to participate oversight of in the 2019 parliamentary selection process. In common with many of the party’s right-wing protégés, Iqbal had joined Labour, moved to the Tories when that seemed a better prospect for election, then returned to Labour.
Tarry is the second London MP to face deselection after appalling conduct by the party. Apsana Begum, in nearby Poplar and Limehouse, has been triggered after a horrific campaign of abuse, intimidation and smears, including an attempt by her ex-husband’s allies to imprison her on trumped-up housing fraud charges that were rightly dismissed by a court. Rather than offer her any support or fulfil its safeguarding duties, the party instead joined in the smears.
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