Griffiths is first 'Blair babe' to be deselected

Jane Griffiths has become the first Labour MP to be deselected since Tony Blair came to power after party members in Reading East decided they did not want her to represent them after the next election.

Ms Griffiths, who has been an MP since 1997 and was one of the original "Blair babes", was thrown out last night after party members decided to replace her with a local councillor as the candidate.

Tony Page, who used to work for Gerald Kaufman MP, chairman of the House of Commons culture committee, beat Ms Griffiths in an unusual vote which confounded normal parliamentary practice.

Most MPs are automatically reselected to fight their seats at elections. But recently, Helen Clark, Labour MP for Peterborough, narrowly survived a similar deselection attempt. Ms Griffiths, who was a linguist at GCHQ, the secret listening station in Cheltenham, before becoming an MP, is believed to have fallen out with party members. She was among the tuition fee rebels to switch sides and back the Government in the vote on top-up fees which Mr Blair narrowly won.

Ms Griffiths will remain the MP until the next election, when the Tories will step up their challenge for the seat.

Stuart Singleton-White, chair of Reading East Labour party, said: "Local members have decided that Tony Page is the best candidate for Reading East at the next election. We want to thank Jane Griffiths for her hard work as an MP."

Mr Page said: "I am very honoured that the local Labour Party has chosen me to be its candidate in the forthcoming general election. Jane has been a very hard-working MP for the people of Reading East and will be a hard act to follow."

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