A LABOUR candidate has withdrawn from the race to become MP  – branding the selection process “frustrating” and “disenfranchising”.

Gillian Troughton, a Cumberland councillor and former Copeland parliamentary candidate, made the shortlist to stand for the new Whitehaven and Workington constituency.

But in an email to Labour members, which has been leaked on Twitter, Cllr Troughton said she was withdrawing from the contest, raising concerns over the fairness of the process, with claims that it had been “skewed to benefit certain candidates”.  

It comes after the entire committee of Copeland’s Labour group resigned over long-serving Copeland Constituency Labour Party secretary, Joseph Ghayouba being kept off the longlist of parliamentary candidates.

Cllr Troughton also said it was a “shock” to hear that the selection process would take place on the old ‘Copeland’ constituency boundaries – excluding party members in Workington.

The leaked email says: “Having been a candidate at both council and parliamentary elections previously, I have always considered it a great honour to represent the Labour Party.  Sadly, on this occasion I have found the selection process frustrating and ultimately disenfranchising.

“For months, members in both the Copeland and Workington constituencies made enquiries within the Labour Party to establish when the selection process would start.  We were told by sources at regional and national level that it could not take place until the autumn due to the planned boundary changes. 

“This gave local candidates reassurance that they had months left to share the message of their intention to stand and meet members. It therefore came as a shock to hear that the party were not only starting the process in May but would also be selecting on the old ‘Copeland’ constituency boundaries.

“The new ‘Whitehaven and Workington’ boundaries are due be ratified by Parliament next month. The NEC’s decision to start the process early means nearly 200 party members in Workington will have no say in who is to represent them at the next election.

Sadly, the sudden decision to change the selection timetable has created the impression that candidates such as myself, have not made the effort to contact members.”

Cllr Troughton then goes on to say: “As per the Labour Party’s processes, membership lists were only provided today to shortlisted candidates. To date, without membership lists, my communications have been limited to friends, councillors, and mutual acquaintances.

“Although members are reluctant to complain, many are speculating that at least one candidate had access to membership lists and had an unfair head start in the process.

"I urge the Labour Party to take any complaints of this nature seriously.

“Not only does this present GDPR issues but it may also have left some candidates at a serious disadvantage. 

“As a Cumberland councillor who also works full time, I now feel there is insufficient time for me to make my case to members; I am several weeks behind and have also upset those of you who perceived I was not proactive or did not wish to engage.

“Despite my ambition to represent my community and a belief I am still the best candidate to do so, I am withdrawing.

“Of the six candidates long-listed, three were women.  All three of us have withdrawn from this process.

"I hope the Labour Party are asking serious questions about how we have ended up with no BME or Women candidates. 

“For me, it is hard to feel the process has been run in a way that allows candidates time to make their case fairly to you and it is unsurprising to hear that some members feel the process is skewed to benefit certain candidates.

“I don’t see how the Labour Party can consider this an inclusive process and I stand in solidarity with members across the country who feel the selection process is failing grassroots members.” 

A Labour spokesperson said: “The process to select a candidate in Copeland has taken place in line with the timetable set out and overseen by the NEC. Members will shortly choose from an excellent shortlist of candidates the person they want to be their next Labour MP.

“The Labour Party takes all complaints seriously and, when made are investigated in line with our policies and procedures.”