The hard left MP for Ilford South has been deselected as the Labour candidate for the next general election. Sam Tarry has only been an MP since 2019, after being selected to succeed Mike Gapes, who had quit Labour to co-found Change UK. Tarry was selected in controversial circumstances, with his closest rival having been conveniently suspended from the party the day before the vote. The suspended candidate was Jas Athwal, the leader of Redbridge Council. He was later cleared of wrongdoing and went up against Tarry for a rerun in Monday's reselection battle. Athwal defeated Tarry 499 votes to 361, despite a spirited campaign by the incumbent.
Tarry, who is the lover of Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner, was supported by several MPs from the Socialist Campaign Group including Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Jon Trickett and Apsana Begum. The latter is also facing a reselection contest, although the process was delayed after she signed off sick for three months.
|Sam Tarry pictured centre alongside fellow MP Apsana Begum, who is also facing|
reselection. Bell Ribeiro-Addy can be see on the far left of the picture.
Ilford South is a sought-after seat for prospective Labour MPs as it has been a safe seat since 1997 and the party's majority has only dipped below 10,000 once in that time (2005).
The issue of trigger ballots - the process by which Labour MPs face reselection - has been a controversial issue in recent years. Neil Kinnock introduced them in 1990, but the required threshold was reduced under Jeremy Corbyn in 2018. Labour members voted overwhelmingly in favour of reducing the threshold from 50 per cent to 33 per cent. Therein lies the irony in Tarry's deselection.
In 2018 Labour moderates had feared that the lowering of the threshold would lead to a purge by the hard left. The following year Labour's Socialist Campaign Group more than doubled its number of MPs, with newcomers such as Zarah Sultana, Claudia Webbe, Nadia Whittome and Tarry himself. However, no MPs were deselected for that election - the sitting MPs either won the reselection vote or stood down. This makes Sam Tarry the first Labour MP to be deselected since Anne Moffatt in 2010. His hard left comrade Apsana Begum could follow suit, meaning that a process purportedly intended to purge moderates ends up claiming two members of the Socialist Campaign Group!
Tarry was one of the few Corbyn loyalists to serve on Keir Starmer's front bench, but was sacked after he appeared on a picket line in July this year. The reselection process was triggered the following month. Tarry's response to the news was to accuse the party of a witch-hunt, alleging 'voter fraud' in the trigger ballot. He stopped short of repeating those allegations in a statement released on Tuesday, but he did question the 'integrity' of Monday's reselection vote and said it 'did not reflect the feeling on the ground'.
Tarry's full statement can be seen below.