A LABOUR mayor has said he has been blocked by the party from standing for election to a new role.

North of Tyne mayor Jamie Driscoll said he was “barred” from standing as a candidate as mayor of the North East in a move socialist Labour members have interpreted as part of Keir Starmer’s purge of leftwingers from positions of power.

Driscoll is aligned with the left of the Labour Party and was supported by Momentum and trade unions in his 2019 campaign to be elected mayor of the combined authority which includes Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland and North Tyneside.

He had hoped to be elected as the first mayor of the North East Combined Authority, which will bring together County Durham, Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland.

But Driscoll has claimed the party leadership has blocked his candidacy without offering an explanation.

He tweeted: “I’ve been barred from standing as North East Mayor by [Labour]. No explanation has been given.”

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Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell – a prominent Labour socialist – said the alleged block was an example of “out of control” factionalism within the party.

He said: “This is staggering news. To refuse to allow a serving mayor onto even a selection long list demonstrates that factionalism in the party is completely out of control.

“Jamie Driscoll is widely credited with doing a great job. There can be no other motive for excluding him.”

Neal Lawson, director of the pressure group Compass, added: “This is a democratic disgrace. It’s not the place of faceless bureaucrats to block successful democratically elected mayors like [Driscoll].”

Local news site ChronicleLive reported his main Labour rival for the job was Starmer ally Kim McGuinness.

A spokesperson told the site: “The North East Mayoralty is a unique opportunity for the people of the North East to take more control over the way our region is governed, with powers over housing, education, skills, transport and so much more.

“The Labour Party holds its candidates to a very high standard. During this process, some applicants did not meet the threshold required to proceed to the longlist stage. We do not comment on individual applications.

“Local members now have a fantastic longlist of candidates from which they will choose the Labour Party’s candidate to be the very first North East Mayor.”