Labour’s runners and riders in Peterborough

Unite organiser Lisa Forbes and NHS carer Samantha Hemraj lead the race to be Labour's new candidate for Peterborough.

Labour is due to shortlist names for the party’s candidate in the expected Peterborough by-election today, following the conviction of Fiona Onasanya for perverting the course of justice. Local members will elect their candidate from the all-women shortlist next Wednesday.

The favourite to win is said to be Lisa Forbes, a local Unite organiser who stood for the seat before, losing to Stewart Jackson in 2015. She declined to compete again in the 2017 election, telling the local paper that she was moving to a new house and so didn’t have time. Local sources claim the party’s poor positioning in the polls at the time also influenced her decision. She’s won backing from the GMB, Momentum, and Unite.

Health care assistant and local councillor, Samantha Hemraj, has won the support of her own union, UNISON, as well as USDAW. On the left of the party, Hemraj was chosen to introduce Jeremy Corbyn when the Labour leader gave a major Brexit speech in Peterborough in 2017. Although said to be personably affable and well-placed to offer the fresh start Labour may need to retain the seat, Hemraj is at a disadvantage to Forbes with respect to her job – the NHS carer is currently working night shifts, while her opponent is thought to have been given leave from her day job with Unite to fight the campaign.

The others thought to be in consideration are Leonie McCarthy, who failed in her bid to be selected for her home seat of Corby and East Northamptonshire last year, Belinda Bell, Director of a social enterprise in Cambridge, and Antonia Ryan, a councillor in Central Bedfordshire. However, one of the two local candidates are expected to win.

Labour are the last major party to select their candidate, with the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, UKIP, and Greens, as well as the SDP and Monster Raving Loony Party, all having announced their choices already.

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