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Labour candidate who would have taken on Liz Truss suspended after 'social media behaviour' complaint

PUBLISHED: 09:41 29 October 2019 | UPDATED: 10:24 29 October 2019

Matthew Collings. Pic: Matthew Collings.

Matthew Collings. Pic: Matthew Collings.

Matthew Collings

A prospective parliamentary candidate for Labour has been told he has been suspended from the party - just a day after he was picked to stand against Elizabeth Truss in the next election.

Elizabeth Truss MP. Picture: Ian BurtElizabeth Truss MP. Picture: Ian Burt

Artist Matthew Collings, 64, received an email from his party on October 24, the day after he beat two other candidates at a hustings to be picked as Labour's candidate in South West Norfolk.

He said the email informed him of his suspension as a result of 'behaviour on social media', which will now be subject to an investigation.

The email had said he could not stand for selection, but that process had already happened. The selection process will now need to be re-run.

Mr Collings, who lives in Northwold with his wife Emma Biggs, also an artist, said he had not been told who had made the complaint or the specific allegation.

He said: "In these cases, you don't learn what it is until the investigation gets under way. And those investigations can take a long time to be completed, so I will not be able to stand.

"I am very sorry about that. The whole hustings event was so lovely and I really thought we would be able to do something in South West Norfolk.

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"Ever since we moved here nine years ago, we thought it was a lovely area, but that everybody seemed to be struggling with underfunded services.

"You don't need to be a philosopher to know that Tory policies are the reason for that. I wanted to turn people's minds around to see what was happening.

"Emma and I will still keep up our art activism and we will still be supporting the Labour party."

Mr Collings is an art critic for the Evening Standard and has presented television programmes including Bafta-award winning This Is Modern Art, This is Civilisation and The Late Show.

Nobody was able to comment from the South West Norfolk Labour branch, but it is understood they are attempting to establish what needs to happen next to get a candidate in place.

A Labour Party spokesman confirmed Mr Collings was not their South West Norfolk candidate and the selection would be re-run in due course.

In the 2017 election, Conservative Ms Truss held her seat.

Labour's Peter Smith came second, but was 18,312 votes behind the current international trade secretary.

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