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Labour bars three women from Liverpool mayoral candidate contest in ‘absolutely disgraceful’ move

LABOUR was condemned today for barring three women — including the black, socialist frontrunner — from the party’s contest to become the candidate for the Liverpool mayoral race.

An email sent to party members by Labour North West says that Labour has “determined that applications for the position should be reopened in order to allow the Liverpool Labour membership to choose from an alternative shortlist of candidates.” 

Labour did not inform the candidates — frontrunner Anna Rothery, Wendy Simon, and Ann O’Byrne — of the move before the email was sent out.

Ms Rothery, a councillor and the current Lord Mayor of Liverpool, has been backed by the Unite and BFAWU unions and a number of left MPs, including Jeremy Corbyn and Liverpool’s Dan Carden and Ian Byrne.

Ms Simon was backed by the Usdaw and Unison unions, while Ms O’Byrne had the support of the Fire Brigades Union and GMB North West & Ireland.

Ms Rothery said that she would be “left with no choice but to challenge the decision legally” if it stands.

Labour Black Socialists group has demanded an immediate Equality and Human Rights Commission investigation into what they believe is institutional racism. Andrea Gilbert of the group said that the move was “absolutely disgraceful.”

Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: “This fiasco leaves the Labour bureaucracy wide open to charges of sheer incompetence or a political stitch-up — or both.

“If there was a problem with any candidate it should have been dealt with earlier, or is a socialist winner the problem?”

Eleven members of Labour’s national executive committee – Laura Pidcock, Nadia Jama, Howard Beckett, Mish Rahman, Yasmine Dar, Gemma Bolton, Andi Fox, Lara McNeill, Jayne Taylor, Ian Murray and Andy Kerr – wrote today to Labour general secretary David Evans calling for an explanation and saying they were considering further action.

A Labour spokesperson said: “After careful consideration, Labour is reopening the selection for Liverpool Mayor. We are committed to ensuring members are able to choose the right candidate to stand up against the Conservatives, lead Liverpool out of the coronavirus crisis and fight for the resources that the city desperately needs.”

Joe Anderson was the party’s candidate before he was suspended and stood down as Liverpool mayor in December, after his arrest on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation.

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