Tories accused of 'smearing' Labour candidate and veteran who parachute jumped in D-Day anniversary fundraiser

10 June 2024, 09:38

Bayo Alaba, the Labour parliamentary candidate for Southend East and Rochford
Bayo Alaba, the Labour parliamentary candidate for Southend East and Rochford. Picture: Bayo Alaba / X

By Christian Oliver

The Conservatives have been accused of smearing a Labour candidate who parachuted into Normandy, France, alongside fellow veterans as part of D-Day anniversary commemorations.

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Bayo Alaba, the Labour parliamentary candidate for Southend East and Rochford, completed the jump to commemorate the largest amphibious invasion in history while raising over £11,000 for the Royal British Legion and Trust Links charities

But Tory councillor Daniel Nelson over the weekend came under fire for mocking Mr Alaba for being "still in France" during the anniversary events.

In a somewhat provocative post on X/Twitter, Mr Nelson, the councillor for Southend's Southchurch ward, said he had been “in the constituency talking to residents” on "fantastic door knocking sessions" in support of Tory candidate Gavin Haran.

Social media users quickly noted that Mr Alaba was in fact in France to participate in the D-Day jump.

Sharing footage of the events alongside other fellow veterans, Mr Alaba wrote: “Our jump into Sannerville marked the 80th anniversary of D-Day. This was my small homage to our forebears who gave everything for us on those beaches 80 years ago.”

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Labour frontbenchers quickly called Mr Nelson out for "smearing" the candidate.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner wrote: “He was parachuting into Normandy as part of the 80th anniversary of D-Day, to raise money for the Royal British Legion and Trust Links charities.

“We’re proud of him. Shame on you.”

Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting also weighed in saying he was proud of the Labour candidate for putting "country before party".

“You should be ashamed by your tweet.”

Mr Nelson later deleted the post and "wholeheartedly" apologised to Mr Alaba

"I absolutely support his decision to be in France," he wrote. "As a brother of a serving member of the Armed Forces I understand the sacrifice of our veterans and would never want to disrespect that in any way.

"I have donated to Bayo’s campaign as the charities he was raising money for are incredibly worthy causes."

He urged other people to also donate through Mr Alaba's GoFundMe link.