Hartlepool by-election candidate was 'unsuitable', hears Labour Party Conference
The inquest into Labour’s defeat in the Hartlepool Parliamentary by-election has been reopened at the party’s annual conference.
City of Durham CLP (Constituency Labour Party) delegate Brenda Stephenson branded Dr Paul Williams, who was defeated by Conservative opponent Jill Mortimer in May, “unsuitable” given his views on remaining in the European Union.
Ms Stephenson said Mr Williams was “imposed” on the town and that the seat could have been saved if the Hartlepool CLP had been allowed to select a candidate.
She told the conference in Brighton: “We need to re-establish the rights of CLP members to be fully involved in the process.
“There is no evidence that involving CLP members in the choice of their own MP is a disaster . Whereas, there is evidence that excluding them can be.
“I am from the North East of England, as you can probably tell.
"It was heart-breaking for us from the North East to see what happened in Hartlepool. I never want to see that happen again.
“The CLP were excluded from the contest and the candidate was imposed, who was plainly unsuitable for the area.”
Ms Stephenson added: “Hartlepool was a CLP and was an area where the Brexit vote was incredibly high and the person who was picked, not by the CLP, was very much a leading light of the Brexit organisation.
"And to me, that was just a stupid thing to do. And I am confident that that if the CLP was involved, we could have saved Hartlepool.”