The BBC understands Taiwo Owatemi and Zarah Sultana are at risk of facing votes that could see them deselected. Party members in their constituencies are organising to try to meet the required threshold to trigger a vote.
Labour’s National Executive Committee signed off the rules around candidate selection this week. Local parties can force a full selection process if a majority of local party and affiliate branches vote to trigger a contest. It comes as the party gears up for a general election - possibly as soon as 2023.
Some constituency Labour Party (CLP) members in Coventry were left deeply unhappy at the candidate selection process during the 2019 snap general election. There were claims it was a “stitch-up” and suggested the national Labour Party had imposed candidates loyal to then leader Jeremy Corbyn in the two Coventry seats left vacant by the retirements of long-serving MPs Geoffrey Robinson and Jim Cunningham.
No local councillors were on the party’s shortlists in Coventry South, where Zarah Sultana is the MP, and Coventry North West, Taiwo Owatemi’s constituency.
Some members claim the election results were an indicator that Coventry voters were also unhappy with the choices of Labour candidates as they held on to the two seats by a whisker.
In 2017 Coventry North West had a Labour majority of 8,580 and Coventry South had a Labour winning margin of 7,947 - but in 2019 that fell to 208 in Coventry North West and 400 in Coventry South.
Some senior members of the CLP in Coventry South have also grown increasingly frustrated at Ms Sultana’s habit of speaking out against the party leadership and causing controversy, such as when she was pictured with anti-police banners at a rally recently, something she later apologised for.
Four local councillors have been named locally as possible challengers to the incumbent MPs, Earlsdon councillors Becky Gittins and Antony Tucker, Jim O’Boyle, the cabinet member for jobs and regeneration at Coventry City Council, and Kindy Sandhu, the authority’s cabinet member for education.
I’ll be interested to hear more on this …