Labour suspends two candidates in governing body election

Two candidates standing for election to Labour’s governing body have been suspended by the party pending an investigation.

Wirral councillor Jo Bird and long-time party activist Mohammed Azam were both hoping to secure seats on the National Executive Committee as constituency party representatives.

The suspension means that they cannot stand as candidates for these positions.

Sky News understands the decision was taken on Thursday evening.

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints seriously and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures, and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.”

According to the official tally on Labour’s website, Ms Bird’s candidacy had already won the endorsement of 45 constituency parties, and was supported by the Labour Left Alliance, the Labour Representation Committee and Jewish Voice for Labour.

Mr Azam, who in the past has served on the NEC and as a councillor in Oldham, had won the endorsement of 26 constituency parties and the support of the left-wing Campaign for Labour Party Democracy and the Labour Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

Ms Bird was suspended in March last year for referring to “Jew process” during a speech. She was allowed back into the party after apologising and receiving a formal warning.

The timing of the suspensions will inevitably raise questions around possible factional political motivation, given the growing signs of disagreement on left of the party.

In recent NEC elections, left-wing pressure groups have formed alliances to rally support behind an agreed “slate” of candidates.

However, in this contest the pro-Corbyn activist network Momentum has backed different candidates to other left-wing groups such as the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy and the Labour Left Alliance.

On Labour’s official tally Lauren Townsend and Leigh Drennan, the NEC candidates backed Momentum, currently have received 32 and 6 constituency endorsements respectively.

On Thursday, it was announced former minister Liam Byrne was selected to be Labour’s candidate in the West Midlands mayoral race, with Momentum’s favoured candidate Salma Yacoob beaten into third place.

The NEC by-election was called after the incumbent NEC constituency party reps, Claudia Webbe and Navendu Mishra, were elected as MPs in the general election.

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