Labour civil war rages as left-wing Mayor blasts ‘shocking’ decision over major new role | Politics | News

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A Labour mayor has hit out at the “shocking” decision by the party to block his candidacy for a new role.

Serving North of Tyne mayor Jamie Driscoll has been barred from standing to be the first North East mayor after he appeared on stage with Ken Loach, who was expelled from Labour as part of Sir Keir Starmer’s efforts to root out anti-Semitism.

But Mr Driscoll – who is described as the “last Corbynista in power” – today accused the party of being “anti-democratic”.

He told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme: “I’ve delivered thousands of jobs, I’ve built affordable homes, I’ve implemented a green new deal, we’re tackling child poverty across 90 schools in the region.

“When it comes to what the Labour Party needs to project to win elections, which is economic competence, I’ve got a fantastic track record.

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“And for members not to be allowed the choice of putting me forward as the Labour representative is, frankly, shocking.

“I’ve had so much support from right across the political spectrum. So what I want is for Keir and the Labour Party to do nothing more than give members the choice of choosing me as their candidate.”

Mr Driscoll claimed Labour was ousting those on the left of the party.

He said: “I really do think just let members choose who they want as their candidates, that’s how democracy works.

“And I honestly think here that in a two-party system, if you’re going to ban people who are promoting socialist views from participating in that, that is really quite anti-democratic.”

Mr Driscoll also defended his decision to share a platform with film director Mr Loach, who was expelled from Labour in 2021 during what he called at the time a “purge” of Jeremy Corbyn’s allies.

He said: “My combined authority under my leadership has adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism and references the examples.

“I have been on Jewish Labour Movement training, I work very closely with the Jewish Leadership Council and visit synagogues in my region, so this is an entirely separate issue about Ken Loach’s issues you need to take up with Ken Loach, I’m not his spokesperson.

“But there’s only been three feature films set in the North East in a couple of decades – I, Daniel Blake, Sorry We Missed You and now The Old Oak, so it’s a big culturally significant issue for the North East, and to talk to him about films is, I think, entirely justified.

“I share platforms with all sorts of people. A couple of weeks ago I was on a platform with (Conservative Tees Valley mayor) Ben Houchen. That does not mean I endorse the Tories’ economic policies.”

Asked if he regretted appearing with Mr Loach, Mr Driscoll replied: “I regret this entire episode now. The whole thing has blown up and now Labour members are not getting the opportunity to choose.”

But shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds said he would “strongly disagree” when asked if Sir Keir is trying to purge the left of the party.

He said the Labour leader, who succeeded Mr Corbyn, has implemented a “due diligence process”.

Mr Reynolds said: “Specifically in a case where somebody shares a platform with someone who themselves has been expelled from the Labour Party for their views on anti-Semitism, for opposing the tough action that needed to happen, that would preclude them from being a Labour candidate going forward because, when we said we’d have zero-tolerance for anti-Semitism, when we said we would tear it out from its roots, we were serious about that.”

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