Who is Jovan Owusu-Nepaul? Labour’s general election candidate standing against Nigel Farage in Clacton

“If you want politics as pantomime,” Sir Keir Starmer said at his party’s manifesto launch last week, “I hear Clacton is nice this time of year.”

The Labour leader’s remarks were a not-so-subtle barb at Nigel Farage, the Reform UK leader, who has launched his return to politics in the Essex seat.

But Jovan Owusu-Nepaul, Labour’s candidate, will be hoping he can convince voters in the seat to call curtains on Mr Farage’s eighth attempt to become an MP.

A recent poll by Electoral Calculus suggests Mr Farage is likely to win the constituency relatively comfortably, securing 39 per cent of the vote.

Labour candidate Jovan Owusu-Nepaul pictured with Reform leader Nigel Farage (Martin Suker)
Labour candidate Jovan Owusu-Nepaul pictured with Reform leader Nigel Farage (Martin Suker)

Labour is meanwhile projected to come second with 28 per cent and the party is telling locals that Mr Owusu-Nepaul is the only one who can keep Mr Farage out - calling on voters to cast their ballots tactically.

Mr Owusu-Nepaul went to school in Southampton, attending the Warwash Maritime School at Solent University, which specialises in training for those considering working in the maritime industry.

He went on to study politics, philosophy and economics at Goldsmiths University in south-east London, graduating with a 2:1 and a distinction in his dissertation, which was a comparative analysis of the political economy of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn, against the party under the leadership of Tony Blair.

He also studied at the University of Cambridge, achieving a master of studies (MSt) in history before throwing himself into politics.

During his studies, he served as chair of the Lewisham Deptford Constituency Labour Party and was the first British African/Indo-Caribbean ever to hold the position, and was also one of the youngest Labour chairs at the time.

His selection as Labour’s candidate in Clacton was officially confirmed by the party in May.

Polls project Mr Farage will win the seat in Clacton for Reform UK (Reuters)
Polls project Mr Farage will win the seat in Clacton for Reform UK (Reuters)

A press release described the prospective MP, an active trade unionist and campaigner, as a “young man with a passion for revitalising the constituency and a desire for change”.

Mr Owusu-Nepaul said it had been “the honour of my life” to be selected as Labour’s candidate in Clacton, adding: “I know we can mount a campaign to give us a fighting chance of winning the next election and give residents in places like Clacton, Frinton, Walton-on-the-Naze and the surrounding villages a stronger voice in Westminster.”

The Conservative Party has held Clacton since 2017, when Giles Watling secured a majority of 15,828.

Douglas Carwell won the seat from the Tories in a 2014 by-election after he defected from the party to stand for UKIP, Mr Farage’s old party.

According to the Electoral Calculus projection, the Conservatives are on course to secure 25 per cent of the vote, with the Liberal Democrats on 4.4 per cent, the Greens on 2.4 per cent and other parties on 1.2 per cent.

But the Best for Britain campaign group claims its analysis shows Labour can still come through the middle to win the seat if Green and Lib Dem voters back the party.

The claim came as part of a wider tactical voting analysis by the group published this morning for 451 seats across the UK, including a plan to unseat prime minister Rishi Sunak, his chancellor Jeremy Hunt and predecessor Liz Truss.

Best for Britain’s chief executive Naomi Smith said her group hoped to provide a roadmap for the four in 10 voters looking at voting tactically for centre-left parties and wanting to minimise the number of Tory seats, as well as preventing “nativist, populist parties” like Farage’s Reform UK getting a foothold in parliament.

She said previous votes in the area showed there was strong Labour support in Harwich, part of the Clacton seat, which “was suppressed by Brexit”. But Harwich had been held by Labour in 1997 and 2001.

She said: “Our analysis shows that if the Greens and Lib Dems vote Labour then Labour can come through the middle and win Clacton.”