Three still in the hunt for Labour

The Chronicle - - News - Sean.sed­[email protected]­me­

NICK Forbes is lead­ing the way in the race to be­come Labour’s North of Tyne may­oral can­di­date - but Jeremy Cor­byn sup­port­ers are eye­ing a big up­set.

Coun Forbes, the leader of New­cas­tle City Coun­cil, se­cured the back­ing of four con­stituency Labour party groups (CLPs), plus five unions and as­so­ci­ated or­gan­i­sa­tions.

But Mo­men­tum-backed Jamie Driscoll, who had never held elected of­fice be­fore May 2018, landed back­ing from five CLPs and two trade unions, mark­ing him out as the main chal­lenger to the leader of his own coun­cil.

Culler­coats coun­cil­lor Karen Lee, who en­tered the race when Labour party bosses sus­pended the process af­ter it pro­duced an all-male slate of can­di­dates, also se­cured enough back­ing to progress to the next stage.

North East MEP Paul Bran­nen didn’t se­cure the req­ui­site sup­port needed to make it through and has con­firmed he’s with­draw­ing.

The three re­main­ing can­di­dates will be in­ter­viewed by party bosses to­mor­row be­fore the fi­nal list of can­di­dates is put to mem­bers who will choose the even­tual nom­i­nee to fight the land­mark May 2 elec­tion.

Coun Forbes said:”I’m proud to have the sup­port of unions and so­cial move­ments from across the North East. I want to be the mayor who stands up to Tory aus­ter­ity and puts our pub­lic ser­vices first.”

But with mem­ber­ship hav­ing skewed heav­ily left in re­cent years un­der Mr Cor­byn, Coun Driscoll, who rep­re­sents the Mon­u­ment ward in New­cas­tle, still looks highly likely to mount a sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenge.

He said: “I’m the only can­di­date in the race who rep­re­sents the pol­i­tics of Jeremy Cor­byn, while the rest are closer to New Labour tra­di­tions.

“Noth­ing is in the bag un­til it’s over if the last three years in pol­i­tics has taught us any­thing, it’s that.”

Coun Lee, a busi­ness­woman and an­other new­comer to front line pol­i­tics, made it through by se­cur­ing two se­condary votes from CLPs (un­der Labour party rules, a CLP can cast two votes if one is for a fe­male can­di­date).

She said: “Peo­ple have of­ten asked me why I’m not a Tory be­cause I’m a busi­ness­woman and I’ve al­ways been com­fort­able an­swer­ing that: Be­cause I be­lieve we have a moral and so­cial obli­ga­tion to make sure every­body has equal op­por­tu­ni­ties..”

Af­ter the three can­di­dates are in­ter­viewed by a panel of party ex­ec­u­tives this week, bal­lots will be sent out to mem­bers on Jan­uary 21, with a can­di­date be­ing an­nounced next month.

Jamie Driscoll

Karen Lee

Nick Forbes

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