Row erupts in Labour process to pick candidate to fight Norwich North

A Labour rosette

A row has erupted over Labour's Norwich North parliamentary candidate selection process - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

An extraordinary row has broken out amid Labour's selection process for a parliamentary candidate to take on Chloe Smith in Norwich North.

A London-based candidate has been publicly accused by another Labour member of having local knowledge which would "fit on a postage stamp".

Norwich city councillor Karen Davis, who stood against Conservative Ms Smith in 2019, announced on Monday she hoped Labour would pick her again ahead of the next general election.

And Alice Macdonald, the daughter of former Norfolk county councillor and West Norfolk Council Labour leader Irene Macdonald, announced on Wednesday she was also entering the selection process.

Alice Macdonald

Alice Macdonald - Credit: Southwark Council

Educated in Downham Market, she is a Labour councillor and cabinet member on Southwark Council in London.

She posted a video on Twitter, since deleted, announcing her application and showing her in various Norwich locations.

And that prompted an angry response from county councillor Emma Corlett, deputy leader of the Labour group at Norfolk County Council.

Councillor Emma Corlett

Emma Corlett, county councillor and deputy leader of the Labour group at Norfolk County Council - Credit: Archant

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Ms Corlett tweeted: "This video literally uses photos from Karen Davis' campaign on holiday hunger and has you walking past the Vote Labour boards she and I put up with our bare (splintered) hands."

In the video, Ms Macdonald said: "I'll be a powerful voice in Westminster, using my local knowledge and national experience to stand up for Norwich North."

But Ms Corlett tweeted: "Use your local knowledge? What, on a postage stamp? Shameless.

"I have no problem with open selection. I do have a problem with people shamelessly grifting off others' hard work. Especially when a woman is doing it to another woman candidate."

Ms Corlett did not want to comment further. She has not deleted her tweets.

Ms Macdonald has not responded to a request to comment, but on her campaign website she states: "My friends and family live in Norwich and the Broadland area – I spend so much time here and I love it."

Chloe Smith, Conservative MP for Norwich North

Norwich North Conservative MP Chloe Smith - Credit: Richard Townshend Photography

A longlist of candidates will be put together, which will be whittled down to a shortlist from which the local party will pick the candidate to stand in the Norwich North constituency.

Ms Smith first won the seat in 2009. She held it with a majority of 4,738 in 2019, an increase from a majority of just 507 votes over Labour candidate Chris Jones in 2017.