Grant was one of the first four black MPs and the constituency was one of the centres of the London Afro-Caribbean community. However, Grant's widow Sharon (who was white) declared her intention to seek selection and this split opinion within the local Labour Party. Both Sharon and Bernie Grant had been on the left-wing of the party whereas the leading black contender for the nomination, David Lammy, was a supporter of Tony Blair. After a close-fought selection battle, Lammy was chosen. During the campaign, Sharon Grant made a public show of supporting his election campaign in order not to allow disunity in the Labour Party.
Polling day in the by-election was on 22 June. David Lammy comfortably retained the seat for Labour on a low turnout. Neither of the other main party candidates was able to mount a credible challenge in a seat where Labour was so strongly ahead, with Liberal Democrat candidate and future Chippenham MP Duncan Hames finishing second, and Conservative candidate and future Battersea MP Jane Ellison coming third.