Published: 20:18, 12 April 2021
| Updated: 20:51, 13 April 2021
The Labour party has been left scratching their heads after accidentally nominating two candidates for the same county council seat.
Officials have blamed an administrative blunder that lead to the mix-up affecting a seat in Tonbridge and Malling for the forthcoming county council elections.
Paul Francis discusses the mix up on KMTV
The nomination papers for the Malling ward name both Sarah Palmer and Razwana Shelley as standing for the party.
It is understood that the mix-up occurred because the division covers two parliamentary constituencies and both put forward a candidate.
It is now too late for either one to withdraw and party officials will not intervene to urge supporters to vote for one of the two.
The division is held by the long-standing Liberal Democrat councillor Trudy Dean and not regarded by Labour as a target. She polled 2,576 votes in 2017 with Labour finishing last with just 239 votes.
The Conservative candidate is David Thompson.
Speculation that the two candidates come from different wings of the party have been dismissed as wide of the mark by party sources.
Meanwhile, Labour faced other questions about its decision not to field a candidate in the marginal seat of Swale West.
It did not nominate a candidate and neither did the Lib Dems or Green party - leaving a two-way tussle between sitting Conservative county councillor Mike Whiting and Swale Independent candidate Mike Baldock.
He came close to winning at the last election and the absence of other candidates has triggered speculation of a deal in which other parties have agreed to stand aside to enhance Mike Baldock’s prospects.
Mr Whiting said it was deplorable that Labour was depriving its supporters of a vote. “It is a matter for the party but it does seem a shame Labour supporters won’t have a candidate to back.”
But the Labour leader of Swale council Roger Truelove said he was unaware of any agreement to give Mr Baldock, who is part of the ruling coalition, a free run: “I’m not aware of any agreement; the decision on candidates is for the local association and the county Labour party.”