Labour accused of ‘rigging’ London mayoral selection

Labour were accused of trying to "rig" their London mayoral race today, following reports that the party plans to throw three of their leading candidates off their final shortlist.

Labour's leading mayoral hopefuls were initially told they needed at least five nominations from constituency Labour parties in order to get on the ballot.

Six candidates, Tessa Jowell, Sadiq Khan, David Lammy, Diane Abbott, Christian Wolmar and Gareth Thomas all exceeded that threshold last week.

However, understands a committee of six senior party figures will take part in a phone conference on Friday to decide whether the three candidates with the fewest nominations can be removed, leaving Wolmar, Thomas and potentially even Abbott off the list.

Diane Abbott, who won eight CLP nominations, told the public would see the contest as "rigged" if successful candidates were not even allowed onto the ballot.

"It is not in the party’s interests to arbitrarily slash the shortlist in this way," she said.

"The number of nominations gained does not accurately reflect the relative strength and popularity of the candidates, not least because party members have not had the opportunity to see the candidates on a platform together.

"The danger is that it will start to look like a rigged contest".

Christian Wolmar, who won six nominations, told "I hope these rumours are untrue.

"This would make a farce of the nominations process where the qualifications were set at a relatively high bar. As long as we have the nominations and they have accepted our CVs then why would we get barred now?"

Senior London Labour sources dismissed the claims this afternoon as "gossip" and insisted the decision of who was on the ballot would not be announced until Saturday evening after all the candidates had been interviewed.

Labour's two frontrunners also insisted they did not support limiting the number of candidates on the ballot.

"All candidates passing the threshold must be on the shortlist. Give members the choice," Khan said today.

A spokesperson for Tessa Jowell's campaign said: "We're in favour of members having the widest possible choice."