Momentum-backed Apsana Begum was chosen by local members in the London seat of Poplar and Limehouse as their next parliamentary candidate today.
The local party vice-chair, who is also on Labour’s London regional board and Momentum’s national coordinating group, will replace sitting MP Jim Fitzpatrick.
Begum won against Tower Hamlets councillor Amina Ali, who is also a member of Momentum but was considered to be the ‘soft left’ candidate in the selection contest.
LGBT+ Labour co-chair and Progress activist Heather Peto had been shortlisted but withdrew from the race due to health complications relating to a drug shortage for a rare illness.
The selection meeting on Sunday, October 27th, was described by attendees as “chaotic” because the venue booked was too small and unable to accommodate everyone who turn up to vote.
Doors were supposed to open at 4pm, but voting did not start until 7pm – after hundreds of members had queued outside for hours. The police were called and were present at the meeting.
Ultimately, it was reported that 513 members cast votes, though LabourList was told that many more had initially tried to attend but left after waiting while logistics were organised.
Begum was born and raised Tower Hamlets, and was until recently the local party secretary. She is firmly on the Labour left and was perceived to be the Labour leadership’s preferred candidate.
Begum was endorsed by John McDonnell as well as Momentum. But during the campaign critics highlighted social media posts shared by Begum referencing “Zionist masters” and “Zionist propaganda”.
It is not clear whether Cllr. Amina Ali will challenge the result or consider running as an independent. The latter scenario seems highly unlikely, but, the rejection of an extremely qualified candidate because she was deemed “soft left” doesn’t auger well for the Labour party in a national election against the Conservative party.
Ali Mohamed Abokorruraledcomm@yahoo.co.uk