The resignation of Labour MP Heidi Alexander has triggered a By-election in East Lewisham. The seat is a very safe seat for Labour, Alexander won the seat in 2017 with an increased majority of over 21,000 votes. However, with the internal power struggle within the Labour Party still not over who the party select as their candidate will be of large importance to many inside Labour.
Heidi Alexander was often a critic of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and in 2016, in a coup against the Labour leader, resigned from his shadow cabinet stating it was “entirely dysfunctional” and that Corbyn lacked leadership ability.
The current favourite to replace Heidi Alexander is Sakina Sheikh, who is currently a Councillor in Perry Vale, Lewisham. Sakina is a supporter of Corbyn who during her public announcement putting herself forward to be the next Labour Candidate in Lewisham East stated “Jeremy Corbyn has opened the door to a new kind of Labour Party, one which sticks to its principles, opposes Neo-Liberalism and utilises the knowledge and experience of its members”
This stark rejection of Neo-Liberalism will be a welcome change to many members who see a few members of the PLP, like Heidi Alexander, as not fulfilling the desires of the membership who are overwhelmingly democratic socialists and supporters of Jeremy Corbyn.
Other names that are a possibility for Labour are GMB organiser Nadine Houghton and Katy Clarkand the former North Ayrshire MP who works in Corbyn’s office as political secretary. The right of the party might want to see Kevin Bonavia, a Lewisham councillor. It is also worth noting Labour may impose an all women or all BAME shortlist excluding a number of these names.
The majority of the membership would prefer a supporter of Corbyn to win the by-election but remains to be seen who the party will select as their candidate.