Leading Labour councillor claims she's been blocked from standing as Milton Keynes MP after 'liking' Nicola Sturgeon Tweet

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A leading Milton Keynes Labour councillor claims she has been blocked from standing as a city MP partly because she ‘liked’ a Tweet from the leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party.

New mum Cllr Lauren Townsend says she is “deeply disappointed and hurt” that she is not allowed to be a candidate for the MK North seat and attempt to topple sitting Tory MP Ben Everitt in the next general election.

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She said in a statement on Twitter: “I received the devastating news from Labour that I can no longer stand to represent my home constituency of Milton Keynes North.

Cllr Lauren TownsendCllr Lauren Townsend
Cllr Lauren Townsend

"Despite the support of six affiliated trade unions which should have secured my place on the longlist, I am not the candidate who was invited to stand for the seat, and now find myself blocked from advancing.”

She added: "The accusations against me include having once ‘liked’ a Tweet by Nicola Sturgeon saying she had tested negative for Covid under the heading ‘likes of opposition parties’, and an article I wrote advocating for a Green New Deal - a campaign I've been proud to be a part of.”

Cllr Townsend said she understood that elsewhere people had “rightly” been blocked from standing for MP for publishing social media posts that are racist or anti-Semitic.

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"I therefore want to place firmly on record that the accusations against me do not involve any such material and it is deeply disturbing to me that colleagues, friends and residents could be given that impression by this ruling,” she stated.

Cllr Townsend was advocating for a Green New DealCllr Townsend was advocating for a Green New Deal
Cllr Townsend was advocating for a Green New Deal

The councillor, who is Cabinet member for Public Realm on MK City Council, was endorsed as a candidate by unions including CWU, Unite, TSSA, Unison, ASLEF and FBU.

She said: "I came into politics as a young working class woman who found her voice speaking up for her rights after years working minimum wage, zero hours service industry jobs. Standing up to injustice, organising my colleagues and leading a series of strikes across the country lit a fire in my belly and I’ve spent every day since fighting for workers rights; for equality, diversity and inclusion; for a solution to the climate crisis that puts people and planet first; and to get this incompetent and cruel Conservative administration out of office,” she said.

“I am incredibly proud of the strong, honest campaign I ran. I did so whilst navigating life as a new mother, sore after an emergency caesarean and sleep deprived with a cluster feeding newborn.”

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She added: “This is not the ending to this story I ever imagined, not in a million years... I feel gutted, not just for me but for what this says to the wider membership of our Party, and especially to other young women and/or mothers who desperately want to get more involved in politics but find it an impossible and somewhat intimidating prospect.”

Cllr Townsend has vowed to take a short break but continue serving the community as a local council and Cabinet member.

Her Public Realm duties place her responsible for reducing knife crime, tackling exploitation and gangs, community safety, waste and recycling, highway maintenance, fly-tipping and litter.

The Citizen has approached the Labour Party in MK for comment.