A Labour councillor has put her name forward to be selected as the party’s parliamentary candidate in Bournemouth.
Jessica Toale, Deputy Cabinet Member for culture and a councillor for West End ward, announced she had joined the race to take on former government minister Conor Burns in the Bournemouth West constituency.
A co-founder of the Labour Foreign Policy group, Toale has already been endorsed by several high profile figures including Westminster Council Leader Adam Hug, and David Stokes, the Labour candidate for Bournemouth West in the last four elections.
Launching her campaign on her website, Toale expressed desire to represent the city she remembered from her youth.
She said: “Bournemouth is a brilliant place, but the vibrant town I remember from my youth has been let down by more than a decade of Tory neglect.
“I have seen the decline of our high streets and town centre and my grandparents’ experience at the sharp end of the NHS crisis – facing unimaginable wait times and a lack of quality, affordable social care.”
Toale, who was elected to the council in Labour’s historic victory last May, is attempting to follow the footsteps of former councillors and now MPs Nickie Aiken and Kit Malthouse.
It’s not her first stab at getting selected as parliamentary candidate either. She tried in 2016 at the Richmond Park by-election, ultimately losing out in the selection race to Christian Wolmar.
She also served as an advisor to former Labour and then Independent MP, Ivan Lewis.
The challenge if selected will be tough: former Minister for Northern Ireland and Boris Johnson loyalist Burns has represented the seat since 2010 and currently sits on a 10,000 majority. Labour achieved just under a third of votes cast in the area in 2019 – nearly 5% down on their previous performance in 2017.
Nevertheless, some questioned the decision to stand to enter the Commons while serving as a councillor in a local authority nearly 100 miles away.
Former councillor for Marylebone ward Eoghain Murphy suggested the Labour activist would struggle to juggle the two commitments.
He tweeted: “Congratulations @JessicaToale, but how will you juggle this with a professional career, family and being an effective West End Westminster councillor?
“I found it difficult enough as a single man without parliamentary ambitions.”
Another former Westminster council member Timothy Barnes commented that “she will need to spend a good deal of time in Bournemouth for a bit”.
Meanwhile Hug, the Council Leader emphatically supported the Labour councillor’s candidature declaring that she would be a “an excellent addition to the next Labour Government.”
He said: “Jess is friendly, hard working and a great colleague – she’d be an enormous upgrade in representation for the people of Bournemouth and an excellent addition to the next Labour Government.”
Meanwhile, Labour has already selected Tower Hamlets councillor Rachel Blake as its candidate for the Cities of London and Westminster.
Image: Westminster City Council.