Labour pick their MP candidate for Hemel Hempstead - but only after last-minute controversy

Nabila Ahmed
Nabila Ahmed

A masters student has been named as the Labour Party's parliamentary candidate for Hemel Hempstead, following a controversial selection hearing.

Nabila Ahmed, 27, will stand against Sir Mike Penning in the seat which Labour held from 1997-2005.

But the favourite had been the local party chairman - only for her to be pulled from the shortlist just minutes before the meeting began.

Sandy Palmer, who is also a long-time activist locally, played down the affair when she spoke to the Gazette this week.

She said: "I don't want to talk about all that - what I am focused on is delivering a Labour victory.

"We had a good meeting, with three strong candidates who all gave a strong account of themselves, and Nabila was the stand-out candidate."

Miss Ahmed currently lives in Watford while studying at the University of Manchester for an masters in international political economy. Her BA degree was in Chinese and economics at the School of Oriental and African Studies: University of London.

She previously lived in Taiwan for two years as part of her bachelor’s and can speak fluent Mandarin.

And last year she stood unsuccessfully for election to Watford Borough Council, coming third in Park ward.

She said: “This Tory government has overseen the biggest cuts to our public services in a generation. The NHS and social care are in crisis, our schools are struggling under the weight of the budget cuts and cuts to police budgets are putting our safety at risk.

“People here in Hemel Hempstead need a representative that will put them first. I will work tirelessly between now and the election to let local people know this general election will be a choice between a Labour Party that will stand up for the many or a Conservative Party that only looks after the privileged few."