A hard-Left plot to install candidates loyal to Jeremy Corbyn in Labour’s top target parliamentary seats can be exposed today.
The radical party group Momentum is working hand-in-hand with the trade unions to replace moderates with hardliners in Tory-held constituencies it believes are most winnable.
Unite, the country’s biggest union, has provided training to help favoured candidates win the hotly contested selections and has offered financing for campaigns.
Political organisers employed by the union, led by Len McCluskey, have been deployed to assist the would-be MPs and it has drafted in call centre staff to rally support for them.
The radical party group Momentum founded by Jon Lansman (pictured) is working hand-in-hand with the trade unions to replace moderates with hardliners in Tory-held constituencies it believes are most winnable
Long-standing Labour members have told how Momentum supporters have flooded local party meetings to vote for fervent Corbyn supporters after being mobilised online.
Candidates who have been picked to stand include a vicar nicknamed the ‘Red Rev’ who appeared alongside George Galloway at a mosque in East London and accused the Government of stigmatising young Muslims.
Others include a human rights barrister who provided legal advice to Mr Corbyn, a former rail union organiser and a local council leader who signed a pledge of loyalty to the Labour leader.
Momentum founder Jon Lansman has expressed his delight as candidates backed by his group, which grew out of Mr Corbyn’s 2015 leadership campaign, have been victorious.
Labour has begun picking parliamentary candidates for the next general election in its top target seats, with plans to have held selections in the 75 most marginal constituencies by April.
Political organisers employed by the union, led by Len McCluskey, have been deployed to assist the would-be MPs and it has drafted in call centre staff to rally support for them
An analysis by the Daily Mail has found 19 of the 36 candidates chosen so far have close links to Momentum or the unions.
In the Cities of London and Westminster, Momentum activist and parish priest Steven Saxby won the selection after getting support from his union, Unite, and the endorsement of shadow chancellor John McDonnell, who described him as a ‘good socialist comrade’.
Opponents reported that a professional campaigning firm was employed to telephone local members to canvass support on behalf of Mr Saxby.
In Camborne and Redruth – Labour’s top target in the South West – the successful candidate, Momentum-backed former bus driver Paul Farmer, thanked Unite for helping him win the selection.
In Northampton South, the moderate candidate Kevin McKeever was not re-selected despite cutting the Tories’ majority in the seat from 6,004 to 3,793 at the 2015 election, and then to 1,159 last year.
In the Cities of London and Westminster, Momentum activist and parish priest Steven Saxby (pictured with transgender model Talulah-Eve) won the selection after getting support from his union, Unite, and the endorsement of shadow chancellor John McDonnell, who described him as a ‘good socialist comrade’
Gareth Eales was picked to stand in the seat instead after he received the backing of ten unions, including the Communication Workers Union, where he has been an official for the past 18 years.
Human rights barrister Mark McDonald, who received the backing of Momentum, was selected in Stoke-on-Trent South despite an apparent lack of local connections.
He has provided legal advice to Mr Corbyn and the suspended hard-Left activist Tony Greenstein.
However, Momentum and the unions have failed to get all their candidates selected as they have struggled to mobilise enough supporters in some seats.
A party source said: ‘In some places they just haven’t managed to get enough of Jeremy’s army to actually turn up to the selection meetings.’
Another source added: ‘They are pouring resources in but with limited success. They are trying to take over but so far they have not succeeded.’
In Watford, for example, Unite failed to get its choice – taxi driver Mike Hedges – picked as the candidate after complaints from local members that the selection was being ‘rigged’.
Mr Hedges was beaten in a vote of local members by Chris Ostrowski, who stood in the seat last year.
THE 19 MARGINAL SEATS MOMENTUM HAVE ITS EYE ON
THE RED REV
Steven Saxby (Cities of London and Westminster – Tory majority 3,148): A YouTube clip from 2015 shows him speaking with firebrand former MP George Galloway at a mosque in East London, accusing the Government of ‘extremism’ by bombing Syria, and claiming it was ‘stigmatising Muslim children’ with its anti-radicalisation Prevent strategy.
Emily Owen (Aberconwy – Tory majority 635): The 23-year-old was Momentum’s first-choice candidate. The social policy graduate, who works at Llandudno football club, describes herself as a ‘socialist, trade-unionist, working-class feminist and humanitarian’. At last year’s election she complained after receiving messages about her bra size and what sex acts she would perform for votes.
MOMENTUM TOP TARGET
Fiona Derbyshire (York Outer – Tory majority 8,289): The local Momentum group has pledged it will be ‘mobilising everything’ to get the councillor elected. Her union backers included the unions the GMB and Unite.
Charlynne Pullen (Milton Keynes North – Tory majority 1,915): The former Unite rep won the selection with Momentum’s backing after telling local members that she wanted Labour to work with trade unions to oppose austerity. She spent four years as a local councillor in Islington. Momentum founder Jon Lansman tweeted that she would make ‘a great MP’.
BARRISTER WHO ADVISED CORBYN
Mark McDonald (Stoke-on-Trent South – Tory majority 663): The Momentum-backed human rights barrister has given legal advice to Jeremy Corbyn and hard-Left activist Tony Greenstein, who is suspended from the party after claiming Margaret Thatcher was ‘obviously legitimate’ as an IRA target and that ‘Zionists collaborated with the Nazis’. Mr McDonald is a founder of the Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East group.
SIGNED MOMENTUM LOYALTY OATH
Peter Chowney (Hastings and Rye – Tory majority 346): The council leader has been chosen again to stand against Home Secretary Amber Rudd after signing Momentum’s controversial loyalty oath, which requires would-be MPs to swear allegiance to Jeremy Corbyn’s political objectives. He backed Mr Corbyn in both leadership contests.
- Paul Farmer (Camborne and Redruth – Tory majority 1,577): A former bus driver and Unite activist, he was backed by Unite, the GMB, the Bakers’ Union and Momentum. Following his selection, he told local members ‘meur ras’, which is thank you in Cornish.
- Debbie Bannigan (Rugby – Tory majority 8,212): Momentum told supporters it was ‘imperative’ that they backed the charity chief executive, who shared a platform with Diane Abbott at Labour Party conference. The group said she ’embraces the radical vision of a Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn’.
- Karen Davis (Norwich North – Tory majority 507): The councillor and former squatter gained Momentum’s backing after winning the support of Corbyn ally and neighbouring MP Clive Lewis, who described her as a ‘force of nature’. She is a member of three unions – Unite, the GMB and Unison.
- Greg Marshall (Broxtowe – Tory majority 863): Mr Lansman tweeted that Mr Marxhall will be ‘a great socialist MP’.
- Julie Hilling (Bolton West – Tory majority 936): The former Labour MP and union official is hoping to reclaim the seat she held from 2010 to 2015. Before entering politics, was a senior organiser at the TSSA rail union, which has been a staunch backer of Jeremy Corbyn. On 1 January she tweeted: ‘Here’s hoping for Jeremy Corbyn in No10 by the end of the year!’
- Gareth Eales (Northampton South – Tory majority 1,159): The postman and councillor ousted a moderate who stood in the seat at the past two elections after winning the backing of Momentum and ten unions, including the TSSA, Aslef, Usdaw and the CWU.
- Liz Savage (Southport – Tory majority 2,914): The supply teacher won the selection with the backing of unions Unite, Usdaw, CWU, GMB and Unison. She was also endorsed by Labour MP Dan Carden, who was union leader Len McCluskey’s bag carrier until he was elected in June.
- Fran Boait (Gloucester – Tory majority 5,520): The former Green Party candidate won the backing of arch-Corbynista and ex-journalist Paul Mason and the TSSA union. In her campaign, she told local members about she had ‘developed good relationship with John McDonnell and his team’ in her job as a campaigner against quantitative easing. She unsuccessfully contested an Islington Council ward for the Greens in 2014.
- Cheryl Pidgeon (Rushcliffe – Tory majority 8,010): The trade union official was backed by hard-Left figures including Corbyn ally Chris Williamson. Mr Lansman tweeted his ‘delight’ at her selection. Her union roles have included TUC Midlands regional secretary. The seat has been held by Tory former Cabinet minister Ken Clarke since 1970. In 2016, he said he would retire before the next election – which was at the time planned for 2020 – but ran again when the snap election was called.