Labour MP Sam Tarry is deselected in Ilford South

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Labour MP Sam Tarry is deselected in Ilford South

Tarry, who helped organise Jeremy Corbyn's leadership campaign, is replaced by Redbridge Council leader Jas Athwal as Labour's candidate in the seat at next general election following vote

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Sam Tarry, the MP for Ilford South deselected by Labour and Redbridge leader Jas Athwal, who will be the candidate at the next general election
Sam Tarry, the MP for Ilford South deselected by Labour and Redbridge leader Jas Athwal, who will be the candidate at the next general election

A Labour shadow minister who once claimed antisemitism was being exploited to smear Jeremy Corbyn has been deselected as the party’s candidate for Ilford South at the next general election.

Sam Tarry, who previously ran Corbyn’s leadership campaign, was defeated by Redbridge Council leader Jas Athwal, following a tense hustings on Monday night in front of local party members voted to oust him.

The result of the members vote – which included postal votes –  confirmed on Monday evening that Athwal had received 499 votes and Tarry 361.

Athwal, who is a strong supporter of Labour leader Keir Starmer, had been an outspoken critic of Corbyn’s failure on antisemitism, and has built strong links with the Jewish community in the East London borough.

Following the result he 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. ”

Labour shadow health secretary and Ilford North MP Wes Streeting added:”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.”

Another senior Labour source said:”MPs who supported Tarry and turned a blind eye to the disgusting attacks on Jas Athwal will have to live with in on their consciences, knowing it was all for nothing.

“Sam Tarry will now act like a pound shop Donald Trump and claim the vote was rigged.

“Luckily, Labour has shut the door on conspiracy theorist cranks.”

Ahead of Monday night’s vote, one senior Labour official had described the selection contest as a “battle for the heart and soul of the party.”

Ex-trade union official and Momentum director Tarry’s deselection was allowed to take place after every local branch in his constituency voted to trigger the full reselection proceedings.

Ironically, Tarry became the first Labour MP to be deselected since 2010, with new leader Keir Starmer bringing in a rule change that made it harder to deselect party representatives.

It followed an ugly culture that developed under Corbyn’s leadership in which MPs not seen as supportive of the former leader – including Jewish ex-MPs such as Luciana Berger, Louise Ellman and Ruth Smeeth – regularly faced calls for their deselection from hard-left activists in their seats.

Only the hastily called December 2019 election prevented likely deselections taking place.

Ahead of his selection Tarry had campaigned in favour of open selection contests for all MPs to be introduced by the party, to make them more answerable to members.

Athwal had been controversially blocked from standing as the Ilford South candidate ahead of the 2019 election, in what many alleged was a “stitch-up” led groups by Momentum to favour Tarry and the pro-Corbyn wing of the party.

After he was elected MP in 2019 Tarry never sought to patch up relations with Athwal and his supporters in Redbridge, meaning tensions remained.

In a newspaper interview Athwal later told how his  suspension ahead of the 2019 election, over a false allegation of sexual harassment,  took a massive toll on his life. He said the complaint was malicious and his suspension politically motivated, and spent £150, 000 on lawyers to clear his name.

Tarry made his comments about antisemitism being “exploited” during the 2019 election campaign, the Jewish Labour Movement said his remarks were “beyond disappointing”.[

Tarry later claimed that his comments had been misunderstood.

In 2020, he again faced criticism after a motion attacking the Board of Deputies infuriated local Jewish members, but Tarry refused to condemn allegations of intimidation at a branch meeting saying only “there are conflicting accounts of what happened and what was said.”

In the run-up to his deselection Tarry, who is in a relationship with Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, had made claims about alleged voting irregularities in the local constituency.

In July Tarry was sacked as shadow minister for buses and local transport after he booked himself onto a TV show appearance from a picket line at Euston Station and announced Labour would award hefty pay rises when in power.

Starmer later confirmed Tarry was sacked “because he booked himself onto media programmes without permission and then made up policy on the hoof.”

Tarry then attempted to portray himself as leader of the anti-Starmer left-wing of the party, with claims he would lead a rebellion at Labour’s annual conference.

But the threatened protests failed to materialise. Tarry remains the MP for Ilford South until the next election.










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