Local Momentum leaders have written to members in East Worthing and Adur to warn them a candidate was endorsed by Momentum “head office” prematurely and before all the applicants were known.
They claimed Momentum bosses only met one candidate – Sophie Cook, who they then endorsed – and described the decision as regrettable.
In an email they made it clear Momentum members should consider voting for another candidate – Catherine Arnold – although they also named Cook as a someone who members should consider.
The decision to name Arnold in an email to all local members is being interpreted as an act of defiance by grassroots Momentum members.
“We trust in our local members to make the right decision on this exceptionally important issue”, the email reads.
Cook was the Labour candidate in last year’s general election. She dramatically increased Labour’s vote last year but Tory MP Tim Loughton held on to the seat with a reduced majority of just over 5,000.
The support of Momentum members could prove crucial in the battle to become the Labour candidate in a winnable south coast seat.
Labour has continued to make strides in the area. In August last year it won its first by-election in Worthing for more than 40 years.
Momentum founder Jon Lansman has been criticised by members for a dictatorial style of leadership since he established the organisation in the wake of Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader in September 2015.