What's happening with left-wing UK Labour Party candidates?

What's happening with left-wing UK Labour Party candidates?
The UK will hold a general election on 4 July. The vote is likely to return Labour Party leader Keir Starmer as the next British prime minister.
5 min read
31 May, 2024
Veteran left-wing MP Diane Abbott has said she is blocked from running again [Phil Lewis/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty-archive]

Several left-wing politicians will either not be running for the British Labour Party at the UK's upcoming general election or face potentially uncertain futures.

The vote will be held on 4 July and is likely to see Labour leader Keir Starmer walk into 10 Downing Street as the nation's next prime minister.

Former party leader Jeremy Corbyn is running as an independent in an election that could see Labour lose ground among Muslim voters, many of whom are dissatisfied with its handling of Israel's war on Gaza.

Another left-wing candidate said he was told he would be ineligible to stand following a complaint, while two others say the party is barring them from running.

Labour's national executive committee will finalise its slate of candidates on Tuesday.

The New Arab contacted Labour for comment but did not receive a response before publication.

Diane Abbott

Diane Abbott, who served as shadow home secretary under Corbyn, is the UK's first Black woman MP. She has represented the north London seat of Hackney and Stoke Newington since 1987.

Abbott has said she is blocked from running again, but Starmer on Thursday said "no final decision" had been made.

Angela Rayner, deputy leader of the party, told British broadcaster ITV that she doesn't "see any reason why" Abbott "can't stand as a Labour MP going forward".

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Abbott, a veteran left-winger, was brought back into the fold as a Labour MP this week following over a year of being suspended.

She had written a letter in the Observer newspaper saying Irish, Jewish, and Traveller people "undoubtedly experience prejudice", adding that this was "similar to racism". But she said these groups are not "all their lives subject to racism".

Abbott quickly apologised, withdrawing her comments.

The BBC has reported that the party investigation looking at her remarks finished in December.

Faiza Shaheen

Faiza Shaheen is not an MP but had been seeking to topple senior Conservative Iain Duncan Smith in the London constituency of Chingford and Woodford Green. She previously had come within 1,300 votes of success in the 2019 general election.

Shaheen told the BBC on Wednesday she had been sent an email informing her she would no longer be contesting the seat.

She added that issue had been taken with activity on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, since 2014.

The BBC presenter speaking with Shaheen raised one post she had liked which said: "Every time you say something even mildly critical of Israel, you're immediately assailed by scores of hysterical people who explain to you why you're completely wrong, how you're biased against Israel.

"Moreover, you can't easily ignore them because those are not just random people. They tend to be friends or people who move in the same circles as you.

"Those people are mobilised by professional organisations."

Shaheen said she did not remember liking the post.

"I know what's wrong with it… it plays into a trope, and I absolutely don't agree with that and I'm sorry about that," she added.

Shaheen said the post was a retweet of a sketch by American comedian Jon Stewart.

In response to a post on X claiming the politician had been "suspended… from the Labour Party", Stewart said it was the "dumbest thing" the UK has done "since electing Boris Johnson", the country's former prime minister.

"What the actual f**k," Stewart added.

Shaheen said a "campaign of prejudice, bullying and spiteful behaviour has finally been rewarded" by Labour's national executive committee and her name "has been added to the list of those not welcome in the candidate club".

"And it is no surprise that many of those excluded are people of colour," added her statement, reported by the Guardian newspaper on Thursday.

Her team said she had engaged a lawyer and wanted to contest her candidacy being barred.

Abbott, the former Corbyn shadow home secretary, took to X on Wednesday to charge Labour with a "cull of left-wingers", responding to a post about Shaheen being stopped from standing.

Starmer has denied barring left-wing candidates from running.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle

Lloyd Russell-Moyle, the left-wing incumbent MP for Brighton Kemptown, announced on social media that he had been sent an "administrative suspension letter".

"Someone (who remains anonymous to me) has made what I believe to be a vexatious and politically motivated complaint about my behaviour eight years ago," he said in a Facebook post.

"This is a false allegation that I dispute totally and I believe it was designed to disrupt this election.

"There isn't enough time to defend myself as these processes within the party take too long, so the party have told me that I will not be eligible to be a candidate at the next election."

Russell-Moyle said he was "gutted", adding that he aimed to cooperate with the investigations process to prove his innocence.

The BBC reported that Labour had suspended the politician, who has served as MP since 2017.

The public broadcaster added that Labour said a complaint had been made and was under investigation.

"The Labour Party takes all complaints extremely seriously and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures, and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken," a spokesperson for the party said.

Apsana Begum

Apsana Begum is hoping to be re-elected in London's Poplar and Limehouse constituency, which she has represented since 2019.

But British news magazine The Spectator published an article on Wednesday asking whether she would be the "next to go from Labour".

The piece by gossip columnist "Steerpike" said local party members had in May contacted Labour's national executive committee, calling for a selection vote.

Begum is the UK's first hijab-wearing MP.

On Monday, she posted on X that she had been out campaigning.

Steerpike reported that he "even hears that concerned members have reached out" to Labour Party campaign director Morgan McSweeney in an effort "to block [Begum] from standing again".

"But with Labour MPs conscious of the so-called 'Gaza effect', will the party feel forced to stand by one of their few female Muslim parliamentarians? Watch this space…" the Spectator article concluded.

The Guardian listed Begum as being "apparently safe".

The New Arab contacted Begum via an email listed on her website but did not receive a response before publication.