Three still in the hunt for Labour
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.