Tories accused of ‘smearing’ Labour candidate for D-Day parachute fundraiser

Angela Rayner has accused the Conservatives of smearing a Labour general election candidate who parachuted into Normandy to raise money for the Royal British Legion.

Tory councillor Daniel Nelson is under fire after mocking Labour’s Southend East and Rochford candidate Bayo Alaba for being out of the country on the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

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In a provocative post on X, Mr Nelson said he had been on “fantastic door knocking sessions” in the constituency. He said it was great to be with Tory candidate Gavin Haran “in the constituency talking to residents”.

Angela Rayner accused the Tories of ‘smearing’ the Labour candidate (Getty Images)
Angela Rayner accused the Tories of ‘smearing’ the Labour candidate (Getty Images)

And he added: “Is the Labour candidate still in France?”

It was quickly pointed out that Mr Alaba was in France to parachute into Normandy as part of the D-Day 80th anniversary commemorations. He was raising money for the Royal British Legion, a charity supporting armed forces personnel and veterans.

After the jump, he said: “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.”

Sir Keir Starmer’s top team were quick to jump to Mr Alaba’s defence, with Angela Rayner accusing the Tories of “smearing” the candidate.

She said: “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.”

And shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said he was proud of Mr Alaba for putting “country before party”. “You should be ashamed by your tweet,” he told Mr Nelson.

Following the backlash, Mr Nelson said he was glad Mr Alaba’s jump had gone well and that he had donated to the appeal.

It comes just days after Rishi Sunak was condemned for skipping out on D-Day commemorations to take part in a TV interview.

The prime minister came under fire for cutting short his own trip to France to snub the international portion of the celebrations.

A Normandy veteran and the former head of the Royal Navy were among those who criticised him.

Normandy veteran Ken Hay, 98, accused Mr Sunak of letting “the country down”.

And Admiral Lord West of Spithead, the ex-head of the navy, said it was “stupid” and an “own goal” of the Tory leader to miss the major international ceremony.

He said the prime minister’s “advisers should have told him” to stay, adding: “What a cock-up.”