Former shadow minister Sam Tarry has been voted out as MP by locals Labor party members amid a bitter row in the Ilford South constituency.
Tarry, a former senior union official who helped organize Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign, lost the chance to contest the seat at the next election.
Members voted by 499 votes to 361 to elect the leader of Redbridge council, Jas Athwal, at a husting on Monday night after every local ward in his constituency voted to trigger the full re-election process.
Both sides had informed that they were sure of victory. Tarry’s allies hoped that his campaign had been strengthened when he was sacked as shadow transport minister in July after joining a picket line in support of RMT workers.
Labor said the dismissal was due to remarks in interviews he conducted on the picket lines about wage inflation, which were not party policy.
Athwal, a close ally of several Labor MPs including Wes Streeting, was favorite for election to the Ilford South seat in 2019, but was suspended over an allegation of sexual harassment shortly before the selection battle.
But it was Athwal cleared of errors and argued that the complaint was malicious and his suspension was politically motivated. Tarry won the selection battle during Athwal’s suspension and went on to be elected MP with a majority of more than 24,000. The circumstances of the selection process led to a deep split in the constituency party.
Tarry, who is in a relationship with Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, has alleged serious concerns over the conduct of the campaign against him at Labor headquarters, claiming he had discovered “ghost members” who had left the constituency or died.
Ahead of the caucus, Athwal’s allies said he was extremely confident their campaign was organized enough to oust Tarry. The council leader has been backed by the unions Unison, Usdaw and the Community. Tarry had the support of major unions including Unite, CWU and Aslef.
In a statement after the meeting, Athwal said: “Ilford is my home, it’s where I live, went to school and where my children all went to school.
“It is the only place I would ever want to represent. The opportunity to be a Labor candidate at the next election and to be part of Keir Starmer’s winning team is a real honour.
“Today, Ilford being able to focus on the future and ensuring that Westminster delivers for Ilford means that Ilford gets the investment it needs and deserves.”
Tarry is believed to be considering whether to challenge the result. In a statement on Monday night, he said: “I am incredibly disappointed with this outcome, most of all for all my committed volunteers and the wonderful people of Ilford South. I intend to issue a further statement tomorrow about the process and outcome.”
Streeting, the shadow health secretary whose Ilford North seat borders Tarry’s, has been an outspoken supporter of Athwal.
He said: “Jas will be an excellent representative for Ilford South. His is an Ilford story – the boy who came from Punjab and built an education, successful businesses and a wonderful family here.
“He has led Redbridge Labor to three unprecedented victories because he is a local resident who fights as hard for our community as he would for his own family.”