Starmer sparks civil war by blocking left-wing mayor from crucial shortlist

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The Labour Party has sparked outrage on the left of the party by blocking the ‘last Corbynista in power’ from standing.

Jamie Driscoll, the current mayor for North of Tyne has been in power since 2019, and during this time has frequently positioned himself to the left of Sir Keir Starmer.

His role is set to be abolished, thanks to the new Mayor of the North East which will incorporate the North of the Tyne as well as Northumberland and County Durham.

Who Labour selects as their candidate, given the party’s current poll lead and traditional strength in the North, will be critical in deciding the next Mayor.

While the internal battle had been expected to be a fight between Mr Driscoll and a more centrist figure, today the Labour Party confirmed the shortlist does not feature Mr Driscoll – essentially banning him as a candidate and ending his mayoral career.

Instead three pre-approved candidate names have gone forward: Kim McGuinness, ex-MEP Paul Brannen, and Newcastle councillor Nicu Ion.

In a swipe at Mr Driscoll, The Labour Party told The Chronicle: “The Labour Party holds its candidates to a very high standard”.

“During this process, some applicants did not meet the threshold required to proceed to the longlist stage. We do not comment on individual applications.”

Responding to the move, Jamie Driscoll tweeted: “I’ve been barred from standing as North East Mayor by @UKLabour. No explanation has been given.”

“I’m proud to have created thousands of jobs, fought child poverty, built affordable homes and delivered our Green New Deal.

“I believe in democracy. Share if you do too.”

He promised: “More to follow”.

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The news immediately prompted backlash by the Labour left, with former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell describing the move as “staggering.”

He said: “To refuse to allow a serving mayor onto even a selection long list demonstrates that factionalism in the party is completely out of control. Jamie Driscoll is widely credited with doing a great job.

“There can be no other motive for excluding him.”

Howard Beckett, of the Unite Union, tweeted: “An outstanding major [sic]. One whose socialist principles run deep. Brave enough to push that socialist agenda. Standing up to the far right. Standing up to establishment centrists”.

“No wonder he’s been prevented from standing…….”

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Jeremy Corbyn’s Director of Policy Andrew Fisher responded: “When you know you can’t beat someone in a democratic contest, why not purge them?”

“That’s the @UKLabour way apparently …”

The left-wing paper The Morning Star, which this week carried a prominent opinion piece from Jeremy Corbyn, responded: “An outrageous attack on an elected socialist mayor with a great record. Labour authoritarianism is getting worse. The Morning Star stands with Jamie Driscoll”

Some have interpreted Mr Driscoll’s promise of “more to come” could signal he plans to appeal the decision.

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