Ken Livingstone defender Claudia Webbe selected as Labour candidate for Leicester East

Claudia Webbe, an Islington councillor and close ally of Jeremy Corbyn, chosen for safe seat previously represented by Keith Vaz



A left wing activist, who defended Ken Livingstone after he likened a Jewish reporter to a concentration camp guard, has been chosen as Labour's candidate for Leicester East.

Claudia Webbe, an Islington councillor and close ally of Jeremy Corbyn, will contest the safe seat which Keith Vaz won with a majority of 22,428 votes at the last general election in 2017.

In 2006, Ms Webbe wrote a letter to The Guardian, saying Mr Livingstone's four-week suspension as London Mayor “smacked in the face of true democracy”. She added: “His history of work in the anti-racist movement is unquestionable.”

The Jewish Labour Movement said Ms Webbe’s selection was part of Labour’s continued attempts to “select candidates with a dodgy track record on defending antisemitism”.

In a statement, it said: “Claudia Webbe defended Ken Livingstone and as chair of the party’s disciplinary body promoted the view that elites were making false allegations against Jeremy Corbyn."

The statement highlighted that Ms Webbe served on the executive of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy alongside Pete Willsman, the senior Labour member whose rant about British Jews being "Trump fanatics" was exposed by the JC.

“From Gorden Nardell to Claudia Webbe, the figures who’ve enabled our discrimination are being rewarded with seats,” the statement said.

Ms Webbe appointment to oversee Labour’s disciplinary cases, including ones relating to antisemitism, caused alarm in 2018.

Her appointment was immediately called "a step backwards". Richard Angell, director of the centrist Labour group Progress, accused her of allowing “antisemitic tropes to be uttered unchallenged" during an event at the party's conference last year.

Ms Webbe insisted that she had not meant to allow speakers at the party's 2017 conference to use antisemitic tropes during a debate about adopting new rules to clampdown on Jew-hate.

Ms Webbe, who worked as an adviser to Ken Livingstone in 2000 and 2004, was picked as a candidate by a selection panel that included two representatives of the party's governing body, the National Executive Committee (NEC).

Speaking to LabourList about her selection, she said she was “proud to be born and bred in Leicester, and that’s why I am honoured to have the opportunity to represent the Leicester East community, where my family still live, and to make a positive impact on the lives of local people.”

Ms Webbe’s selections comes as Mr Vaz announced his retirement on Sunday after he was found to have “expressed willingness” to buy cocaine for others.

He was issued with a six-month suspension from parliament and decided to stand down.

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