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Who’s left to vote for?

A vacuum has developed on the left in UK electoral politics. Are any parties or independents ready to step in? Red Pepper surveys the contenders to watch out for at the 2024 General Election

5 to 7 minute read

On a red background there are eight headshots of politicians: including Jeremy Corbyn, Leanne Mohammed, Jamie Driscoll and Lutfur Rahman.

The electoral representation of the left, in all its diversity, is in a state of flux. Red Pepper is independent of any one political party – and remains rooted as it has always been in social movements that are firmly independent of electoral politics.

We provide a platform and an educational resource for debating, experimenting and reviewing how far these electoral initiatives strengthen – or otherwise – the transformative potential of extra-parliamentary movements for radical change. Below, we survey the contenders to watch out for at the 2024 General Election.

With a new government in power, the role of Red Pepper and other independent media outlets will be essential for democracy – and for the future of the left in all its diversity. We need you to support our work – by taking out a subscription or donating to our fundraising campaign

The Independents

These diverse and locally rooted initiatives do not add up to a strong or coherent electoral challenge to Starmer’s Labour. However, in their diversity, social-movement roots and campaigning energy they share a determination to sustain extra-parliamentary campaigns over Palestine, austerity, trade union rights, the treatment of refugees, womens, queer and trans rights, and more generally to hold a Labour government to account. In each case, there is a shared commitment to create alternative sources of power both to resist and to prefigure alternatives.  

Jeremy Corbyn – Islington North

The former Labour leader and long-term Red Pepper supporter is the most significant independent candidate at the general election. While his 41-years of work for constituents puts him in a strong position – as does the large numbers of supporters joining his canvassing teams – his success is in the balance.

The Labour machine has inherited the CLP’s election data, while Corbyn’s campaign is starting from scratch. Labour is throwing everything it can into support for its candidate Praful Nargun, who runs a private fertility treatment company. Corbyn and the campaign team are going all out canvassing before polling day. Expect a massive door knocker effort on Thursday July 4, encouraging those who have said will, actually go out to vote for Corbyn.

  • If you’re eager to help knock on doors and help get out the vote in Islington North, head to this sign-up form or join the ‘Canvass for Corbyn’ WhatsApp group
  • Want to join Red Pepper’s founding editor Hilary Wainwright canvassing over the weekend? Email wainwright.hilary@gmail.com

Leanne Mohamad – Ilford North

Campaigners are seeking a huge political shift in Wes Streeting’s seat. Streeting, Labour’s shadow health secretary, overturned a Tory majority in 2015 but has recently faced intense scrutiny from his constituents over Palestine and over his advocacy of private health care.

Mohamad, who is standing against Streeting, is among the supporters of the recently launched No Ceasefire, No Vote, which aims to coordinate and organise on the basis of a shared belief in justice for Palestiine. Reports indicate that Mohamad’s campaign is gathering momentum.

Andrew Feinstein – Holborn and St Pancras

Andrew Feinstein, former MP for the African National Congress and as strong a campaigner against Israel’s ‘brutal, rogue, apartheid state’ as that of his home South Africa, is challenging Keir Starmer in his home constituency. Feinstein aims to ‘teach him a lesson in his own backyard’.

Emma Dent Coad – Kensington and Bayswater

Emma Dent Coad, ex-Labour MP and ex-Labour leader of Kensington and Chelsea borough council, and represented Kensington during the Grenfell Tower disaster. She became an MP in 2017 but lost her seat in 2019 and became council leader. Despite being the obvious Labour candidate for new constituency Kensington and Bayswater, she was blocked by Labour’s draconian longlisting process. Following the lead of Jamie Driscoll, she set up a fundraiser to facilitate an independent campaign and raised over £29,000.

Faiza Shaheen – Chingford and Woodford Green

After Labour HQ’s brutal blocking of her candidature mid-campaign, Dr Faiza Shaheen’s support as an independent is running from strength to strength. In mid-June, the campaign announced their door knocking returns with the same demographic weighting as in a polling sample. It showed her first in the race with 37 per cent of the vote – five per cent higher than Conservative incumbent Iain Duncan Smith and 13 per cent above Labour. This data – while not as accurate as polling – is encouraging.

Openness and empathy towards Faiza’s arguments and treatment in parts of the media indicate that her deselection could have a lasting impact regardless of the election outcome. A minority of the professional political class may finally be waking up to just how dangerously authoritarian Labour‘s party management can be.

Empathy towards Faiza Shaheen’s treatment in indicate that her deselection could have a lasting impact

The parties

A significant number of leading figures on Labour’s radical left – most notably Diane Abbott, Zara Sultana, John MacDonnell, Richard Burgin, Ian Byrne and Clive Lewis – have managed to fend off Starmers’ factional hit squad. It has often been a struggle. But in the majority of constituencies, parties challenging Labour from the left (broadly interpreted) offer the best chance of exerting pressure on a Labour government – depending on the size of its majority.  

The Green Party

The Green Party will contest 574 seats – whether the local party wants to stand aside or not. It means a hard line against local electoral pacts. They will focus on Brighton Pavilion, Bristol Central, Waverley Valley and North Herefordshire. Siân Berry is running to replace Caroline Lucas as MP. Many, but not all, of its candidates offer an opportunity to vote for a pro-Palestine candidate.


The importance of the SNP is not that it is significantly to the left of Labour but that it challenges the Union and Britain’s empire state. While the party’s recent leader, Humza Yousaf, broke from the British establishment on Gaza by coming out early for a ceasefire, its current leader John Sweeney carries the baggage of the Sturgeon leadership. Labour in Scotland, however, carries the burden of its association with Starmer – and has not yet regained a securely dominant position.

If the new SNP leadership can mount a fight that will inspire its supporters, it could be a significant pressure on Labour. Although Sweeney’s leadership is not tending in that direction, Stephen Flynn – the SNP’s leader in the Westminster Parliament – has been a refreshingly clear left voice in the televised leadership debates.

Plaid Cymru

Labour’s Mark Drakeford, as first minister of Wales, was an unusually respected and popular politician up to his resignation in December 2023. His politics, although discreet, were closer to Corbyn than Starmer and chimed with the radicalism of the Welsh electorate. Does Drakeford’s retirement open the door to a resurgence of Plaid Cymru? They are still recovering from the report Prosiect Pawb (Everyone’s Project), which documented a toxic culture within the party.

That turmoil hasn’t stopped key Labour activists from switching sides, however, including a leading Labour councillor joining the Plaid Cymru group on Conwy council because of Labour’s position on Palestine. Welsh voters might well reassess their loyalty to Labour if Drakeford’s replacement, Vaughan Gething (if he remains, following a political corruption charge ) follows his predecessor’s scripts.

This is an updated version of an article that first appeared in Issue #243 Palestine. Subscribe today to support independent socialist media and get your copy hot off the press!

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