One person one vote to decide woman candidate

PUBLISHED: 14:59 08 April 2009 | UPDATED: 16:28 25 August 2010

LABOUR chiefs are NOT shortlisting parliamentary candidates following allegations of nepotism.

LABOUR chiefs are NOT shortlisting parliamentary candidates following allegations of nepotism.

The all-women longlist of eight Labour parliamentary candidates for Erith and Thamesmead was due to be whittled down to four last Friday. But now all eight women will go forward to the hustings meeting, on April 18, where local Labour members will vote on a one-member, one-vote basis.

The moves comes after some labour activists were alarmed with the selection of the daughter of one of Tony Blair's key strategists, despite having little apparent local links.

Bromley councillor Colin Bloom, the Tory parliamentary candidate for the seat, told the Times last week: "It is a shame that local Labour activists have been sidelined in choosing their candidate."

Now Georgia Gould, 22, a Masters student at the London School of Economics, will have to battle it out among seven other candidates. These include physiotherapist and trade union Unite officer Rachael Maskell, who is believed to be backed by Gordon Brown's former press secretary Charlie Whelan. Former Bexley councillor Teresa Pearce is also on the list and was the first chairwoman of the Erith and Thamesmead Labour group when it was set up in 1994.

Plumstead councillor and language teacher Angela Cornforth is one of two Greenwich councillors in the race. Her fellow councillor on the list Jagir Sekhon became the first Sikh female mayor in Britain when she became mayor of Greenwich in 2000.

Former Labour candidate for Orpington in 2005 and cancer campaigner Emily Bird is another Unite member in the running. She was born in Eltham and is a former pupil of Crown Woods School, in Riefield Road.

She competes against Kensington and Chelsea councillor Marianne Alapini who was the Labour candidate for the Tory seat of Woking last year before withdrawing to run for Erith and Thamesmead. She is originally from Kenya and represents the Colville ward which is on the Notting Hill carnival route.

And former MP Melanie Johnson hopes to return to office after losing her Welwyn Hatfield seat four years ago which she held since 1997. She was also a minister for six years in the treasury, health and industry departments, where she shaped new laws to take action against loan sharks.

It has been confirmed that London Assembly member Nicky Gavron is not on the list of eight as previously reported.

On his blog Alistair Campbell denied allegations that he was canvassing votes for his friend's daughter Miss Gould or that he was "masterminding her campaign".

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