Two of the North’s other metro mayors say Jamie Driscoll “deserves to be treated with more respect” after he was barred from a Labour Party selection race.
The sitting North of Tyne mayor has been blocked from standing to become Labour’s candidate for the new, larger North East mayoralty next year.
That shock ruling has been put down to Mr Driscoll’s recent appearance on stage with filmmaker Ken Loach, who was expelled by Labour in 2021 amid efforts to tackle antisemitism.
Mr Driscoll has branded the decision “anti-democratic” and urged Sir Keir Starmer to overturn it.
And he has now been given the backing of two of his fellow Labour mayors, Greater Manchester’s Andy Burnham and Liverpool’s Steve Rotheram.
In a letter to Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC), the body which decided to block Mr Driscoll’s candidacy, the pair called for the left-wing former Newcastle councillor to be given a second chance.
They wrote: “We wish to express our concern to you and other members of the NEC about the handling of the selection process for the North East Mayor.
"Whilst we appreciate the NEC’s important role in upholding standards within the party, and rooting out any form of antisemitism, racism, and discrimination, it also has a responsibility to ensure decisions are democratic, transparent and fair.
"To exclude a sitting mayor from a selection process with no right of appeal appears to us to be none of those things.
“At the very least, we believe Jamie Driscoll should be entitled to a process of appeal with the ability to put his case to an NEC panel. We consider this to be a reasonable request and would be grateful if the NEC would give it serious consideration.
“We have worked closely with Jamie and seen first hand the good work he has done as mayor. He has taken a constructive, non-partisan approach to his work, as shown by his success in delivering a new devolution deal with government for the North East. He has also been a valuable member of our M10 group of mayors.
“We believe he deserves to be treated with more respect than he has so far been shown.”
A Labour source told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that there was no appeal process as part of the mayoral candidate selection and that Mr Driscoll had already had the opportunity to make his case to an NEC panel in a due diligence interview.
The three candidates who have been put on the longlist for the selection contest are Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness, ex-MEP Paul Brannen, and Newcastle councillor Nicu Ion.
Political insiders had long seen the race as a straight fight between Ms McGuinness, who is an ally of Sir Keir, and the Jeremy Corbyn-supporting Mr Driscoll.
A Labour spokesperson said on Friday: “The Labour Party holds its candidates to a very high standard. During this process, some applicants did not meet the threshold required to proceed to the longlist stage. We do not comment on individual applications.”
Mr Driscoll’s appearance with Ken Loach at the Live Theatre in March was branded “hugely upsetting” at the time by the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM).
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The I, Daniel Blake director was expelled from the Labour Party in 2021, claiming at the time that there was a “witch hunt” and saying he would “not disown those already expelled” amid reports of a purge of left-wing factions that backed Mr Corbyn and were critical of Sir Keir’s attempts to tackle antisemitism within Labour.
Asked if he regretted or would apologise for the Ken Loach event, Mr Driscoll told the Local Democracy Reporting Service on Sunday: “The JLM haven’t been in touch… no one has been in touch, no one from the Labour Party has been in touch. Nobody complained.
“There were Jewish members there and nobody seems to think there was anything wrong, except when it came to the selection.”