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All of Labour’s banned candidates as Starmer accused of left-wing ‘purge’

Sir Keir Starmer has been accused of purging the left-wing of the Labour Party, after two candidates were blocked from standing in the general election amid the continued uncertainty over Diane Abbott’s future.

Ms Abbott, a close ally of former leader Jeremy Corbyn, was returned the whip this week – but Labour is yet to clarify whether she will be able to defend the Hackney North and Stoke Newington seat she has held for 37 years.

On Wednesday, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, MP for Brighton Kemptown, revealed that he had been suspended by Labour over what he described as a “vexatious and politically motivated complaint”.

And Faiza Shaheen said she was in a “state of shock” after being blocked from representing Labour in Chingford and Woodford Green, where she stood in 2019, for liking social media posts that allegedly downplayed antisemitism accusations.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle – suspended

Lloyd Russell-Moyle announced on Wednesday that he had been suspended over a “vexatious and politically motivated complaint” about his behaviour eight years ago.

The MP for Brighton Kemptown described the allegation as “false” and “designed to disrupt this election” – but said he would not be able to defend himself under the Labour’s processes before the 4 June selection cut-off.

The party told him he would therefore “not be eligible” to stand on 4 July.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Labour MP for Brighton Kemptow (Photo: PA)

He said he will co-operate with the investigation process, adding: “I believe I will be fully exonerated”.

“I’m gutted,” Mr Russell-Moyle, who was elected in 2017, said. “I’ve spent the last decade of my life building one of the best campaigning CLPs in the country.

“I aim to co-operate with the investigations process to clear my name, but will now take this opportunity to contribute to public life in different ways under what I hope is a Labour government.”

Mr Russell-Moyle is a member of the Socialist Campaign Group, a caucus of left-wing Labour MPs which includes figures such as Mr Corbyn, Ms Abbott and John McDonnell.

How Labour blocks candidates

Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC), the party’s governing body, has the power to block candidates from standing in a general election, even if they have been selected by their local party.

The NEC’s 39 members are drawn from each section of the party, including representatives of affiliated trade unions, the Parliamentary Labour Party, constituency Labour parties (CLP), and socialist societies.

A majority of the NEC’s members, who vote on motions, are thought to be supportive of Starmer.

In cases where the NEC blocks candidates in an election period, it has the power to impose replacements itself through three-person panels, without consulting local parties or regional offices.

This expedited process is also used to select candidates in seats where a Labour MP has chosen to stand down.

Luke Akehurst, an NEC member and Starmer supporter, has been selected to stand in the safe seat of North Durham after long-standing MP Kevan Jones announced his retirement.

The NEC is meeting on Tuesday to endorse the final list of the party’s candidates.

The 37-year-old was given a place in Sir Keir’s first cabinet in 2020, as shadow Minister for Natural Environment and Air Quality, but resigned within months after accusing Harry Potter author JK Rowling of using her experience of domestic abuse to justify a “divide and rule” campaign of discrimination against trans people.

He later apologised and withdrew his remarks.

At the 2019 general election, was re-elected as MP for Brighton Kemptown with a decreased vote share of 51.6 per cent and a decreased majority of 8,061.

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “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.”

Faiza Shaheen – blocked

Faiza Shaheen, who stood for Labour in Chingford and Woodford Green in 2019, has been blocked from contesting in the same seat for the party on 4 July.

Reports on Wednesday suggested Ms Shaheen would be suspended after she liked a series of posts on X that allegedly downplayed antisemitism accusations.

Ms Shaheen, who narrowly lost to Sir Iain Duncan Smith five years ago, told the BBC’s Newsnight she “thought” she was going to be the candidate for the constituency – but received an email on Wednesday evening which said she would “frustrate Labour’s purpose”.

Jeremy Corbyn with Faiza Shaheen during a visit to Chingford in 2019 (Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)

The programme heard she was called to a meeting with a panel of Labour’s National Executive Committee on Tuesday in which they highlighted posts which raised questions about her suitability as a candidate.

One post 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.”

Ms Shaheen said she did not remember liking the post in question but apologised, admitting it played into a “trope”.

The 41-year-old said another post involved her describing her experiences of Islamophobia within the Labour Party.

Ms Shaheen said she was in a “state of shock” and offered an emotional apology to her supporters.

In a possible sign she could run as an independent, she later said “this is not the end of my story”, revealing she would speak to her legal team about Labour’s decision.

The Labour Muslim Network said the treatment of Ms Shaheen, who had been building her campaign over four years, was “unacceptable”.

Jeremy Corbyn – barred

Last week, Jeremy Corbyn announced that he would be standing as an independent candidate on 4 July, after his candidacy was blocked by the party.

The former Labour leader on Friday said he would seek election in the Islington North constituency he has represented for 40 years.

Mr Corbyn had been suspended by Labour since 2020 after he refused to fully accept the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s findings that the party broke equality law when he was in charge and said antisemitism had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons”.

The 75-year-old, who led Labour from 2015 to 2020, has since been sitting as an independent MP. Although his suspension was lifted later in 2020, Sir Keir did not readmit him into the parliamentary party.

Former Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn (C) joins pro-Palestinian supporters preparing to march through central London, on May 18, 2024, at a demonstration to commemorate the 76th anniversary of the Nakba and call for an end to arms sales to Israel. (Photo by BENJAMIN CREMEL / AFP) (Photo by BENJAMIN CREMEL/AFP via Getty Images)
Jeremy Corbyn joins pro-Palestinian supporters in London during a protest earlier this month (Photo: Benjamin Cremel/AFP)

In March, the NEC voted 22 to 12 to approve a motion from Sir Keir to prevent Labour endorsing Mr Corbyn as a candidate.

Shortly after the veteran MP announced his intention to stand as an independent, it was confirmed that he had been expelled from Labour.

Mr Corbyn vowed to be “an independent voice for equality, democracy and peace”.

Sir Keir said his predecessor’s move was “a matter for Jeremy”, as he defended his decision to ban Mr Corbyn from standing for Labour as part of his efforts to “tear antisemitism out of our party by the roots”.

Diane Abbott – decision pending

Diane Abbott’s political future remains uncertain, as Labour is yet to confirm whether she will be allowed to stand candidate for the party on 4 July, despite returning the whip to her on Tuesday.

The veteran MP had the whip suspended in April 2023 pending an investigation after she suggested Jewish, Irish and Traveller people experience prejudice but not racism. Ms Abbott apologised and retracted the remarks.

She was found to have brought the party into disrepute and asked to carry out antisemitism training several months ago.

According to The Guardian, Ms Abbott was recently contacted by the party, who confirmed that the whip had been restored and reassured her that she could make a “dignified exit” by retiring ahead of the election.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 29: Diane Abbott arrives at Hackney Town Hall to cheers from her supporters on May 29, 2024 in London, England. Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington since 1987, has had the Labour whip restored after her suspension last year over comments about Jewish people. Following reports that her candidacy for the next election remains uncertain, supporters and unions are calling for her confirmation to stand as the Labour candidate. (Photo by Guy Smallman/Getty Images)
Diane Abbott arrives at Hackney Town Hall to cheers from her supporters on Thursday (Photo: Guy Smallman/Getty Images)

Ms Abbott was thought to be open to this arrangement, but the plan fell apart after party insiders leaked to The Times that she would in fact be blocked from standing.

The 70-year-old said she was “dismayed” by the emergence of the reports.

Speaking at a rally in her constituency on Wednesday evening, Ms Abbott suggested she could stand against Labour as an independent, as she vowed to stay in Parliament “as long as it is possible”.

Starmer has insisted he is not trying to block left-wingers from standing for Labour after Ms Abbott claimed they are facing an “appalling” cull.

The Labour leader said he wants the “highest quality” candidates to stand for the party and insisted that no decision had been taken to bar Ms Abbott at this stage.

Election 2024

Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer are out on the campaign trail after the Prime Minister announced a surprise snap election on 22 May. i‘s general election live blog follows all the twists and turns of the election period from all the major parties.

The Tories have announced a mandatory national service policy and a “triple lock plus” for pensioners, but are losing more MPs as Lucy Allan entered talks to defect to Reform UK after her suspension.

Labour’s NHS backlog plan has had some criticism but all eyes are on candidates claiming they have been blocked from standing, including Diane Abbott and Faiza Shaheen. Despite this, Starmer is still odds on to become the next prime minister.

Keep up to date with the 2024 general election in our extensive coverage, on everything from the main parties’ environment pledges to the seats still without a candidate.

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