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Barking MP Dame Margaret Hodge facing reselection fight

PUBLISHED: 14:22 30 September 2019 | UPDATED: 19:17 30 September 2019

Margaret Hodge has been Barking MP for 25 years. Picture: PA

Margaret Hodge has been Barking MP for 25 years. Picture: PA

PA Archive/PA Images

Barking MP Dame Margaret Hodge faces a fight to remain as Labour's election candidate after the constituency party triggered a reselection vote.

It's thought a low turnout for the vote was partially to blame for the surprise loss, which was despite getting support from more than half of branches at ward meetings on Saturday, September 28. One count had a turnout of only 15 per cent.

Dame Margaret won support from 55pc of ward branches and 90pc of affiliated societies, according to a statement from Barking Labour.

This would have been enough under the old party system, but since changes were made in 2018 MPs need two-thirds of the vote to secure their candidacy.

Dame Margaret - who was first elected as Barking's MP in 1994 - has put her name forward for the next stage of the process, the date for which has not yet been set.

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In a statement, she said: "I am obviously disappointed. My priority remains serving the people of Barking as I have done for the last 25 years.

"At a vital time for the country, with a general election looming, we should be focusing our efforts on holding Boris Johnson and the Tories to account. I will work to secure the full backing of Barking Labour Party, so I can continue to play my part as their MP in doing that."

Dame Margaret, who is Jewish, has been in the spotlight through her clashes with the Labour leadership over its response to antisemitism and has repeatedly criticised leader Jeremy Corbyn's efforts on the issue.

Andrew Boff, a Conservative London assembly member who lives in Barking, said: "It shows that the antisemitism in the Labour Party goes much deeper than just a few comments."

But Labour Cllr Saima Ashraf, who represents Gascoigne ward, denied Mr Boff's characterisation, saying: "That's untrue. I strongly oppose that comment, it's completely ridiculous.

"Barking and Dagenham has a history about fascism and racism and we all came together against that. This is the one place we wouldn't see that. Communities are working together and living together in peace."

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