Wakefield councillors 'disappointed' after being overlooked for upcoming by-election

Two Wakefield councillors have expressed their disappointment at the Labour Party after being overlooked as possible candidates to become the city's next MP.

By Nick Frame
Friday, 13th May 2022, 2:54 pm
Updated Friday, 13th May 2022, 4:21 pm

A by-election is on the cards after Tory MP Imran Khan stepped down earlier this month after being found guilty after a trial of sexually assaulting a boy.

The upcoming fight for the Wakefield seat is being widely monitored to determine if Labour can win back the former 'safe seat', which fell into the Conservative's hands during the 2019 general election, the first time the city has voted blue for nearly 90 years.

But two high-profile Labour Wakefield councillors, Jack Hemingway and Michael Graham, have both spoken out after failing to make the candidate list for Labour.

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Coun Graham (left) and Hemingway wanted to become the next Wakefield MP.

Now it has been reported that all members of the executive committee of the Wakefield Constituency Labour Party (CLP) have stood down in protest to the lack of local candidates.

Coun Michael Graham took to social media and said: "On Monday I submitted my application to be the Labour Party candidate in the upcoming Wakefield by-election, with hope and enthusiasm.

"However, I am disappointed to share that no applicants who live in the Wakefield constituency were long-listed for the candidacy, decided by the Labour National Executive Committee.

"I want to thank everyone who supported me including those from across the political spectrum who pledged their vote. It really does mean the world to have your backing.

"I can’t tell you how much I love Wakefield and the people that live here. You all tell it exactly like it is and you deserve the very best.

"My work as a local councillor and cabinet member will continue and I promise to do my absolute best by the people I represent."

Deputy leader of Wakefield Council, Coun Michael Graham said: "I’m naturally disappointed not to make the longlist for the Wakefield parliamentary seat determined by the Labour National Executive Committee.

"Wakefield has been my home my entire life, it’s where I’ve been working for local communities for the last decade and I would have relished the chance to put my case to local Labour Party members and the people of Wakefield.

"However the most important thing right now is winning Wakefield back for Labour.

"The party is a movement bigger than any one individual, while there are clearly legitimate concerns about the process followed, we must move on and not allow this to become a distraction from what needs to be a successful campaign.

"I want to thank everyone who supported my candidacy and my vision for the constituency. My work to improve our area as a Councillor and Deputy Leader, will continue with the same passion and enthusiasm."

Despite the lack of local candidates, and the apparent resignation of all members of the Wakefield CLP, The Labour Party has said the process of choosing a candidate for Wakefield has followed the guidance of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party.

The candidates are Kate Dearden and Simon Lightwood.

A Labour spokesperson said: "We’re really pleased to have two fantastic candidates on the shortlist with strong connections to the local community.

"On Sunday local members will make the final choice on a candidate who will be a strong champion for Wakefield and represent a fresh start."