Why is Labour restricting selection of Parliamentary candidates?


This is extremely disturbing, from The Guardian:

Tom Watson, the former Labour vice-chairman, has condemned a decision by the Labour leader to take over part of the conduct of all parliamentary selections from the middle of next month.

It is possible that as many as 10 sitting Labour MPs will stand down late, which will provide a chance for allies of the leader’s office to find seats in a final rush before the general election in May.

Watson, a former government minister and backbench campaigner, said: “It is remarkably early for the leader’s office to take such influence over Labour selections. The effect of this change is to deprive rank-and-file activists and ordinary party members of the right to a full one member, one vote selection as envisaged by John Smith.

“It makes it more likely that selected special advisers and people that have spent their whole lives in politics will be selected at the expense of ordinary party members. The changes means that there is a danger that candidates will be filtered out and not put on the shortlist.”

Some sources concede however that such short-circuiting of the selection process so close to a general election is understandable as the party simply does not have the time to allow a full selection process, which would involve the local constituency party selecting a short list.

The main reform endorsed by the Labour national executive committee this week is that, from December 11, an NEC selection panel will choose the shortlist to put to a local party.

Critics of the decision argue that with a fixed-term parliament it would have been possible to keep the full selection process open for longer. They say that strong local candidates could be excluded from shortlists as the leader’s office and unions divide up the remaining seats. At least three or four senior party aides are looking for a seat.

Typically some Labour MPs wait until the last minute to stand down, either because they are undecided or because they have come to a deal with the leadership that the seat will effectively be reserved for a party favourite and the MP standing down will be offered a seat in the Lords if they wish to take it.

That last paragraph is extremely disturbing as it is a clear allegation of corruption.

Perhaps this is a clear indication that all constituency Labour parties should run a full selection procedure for every election. Then, if sitting members decide to relinquish their seat late in a Parliament, the constituency party’s second choice would become the new candidate, thus preventing the interference suggested by the article, which can only increase the division between the party leadership and grass-roots members that has been highlighted in this blog previously.

Labour is in opposition, with an unpopular leader who is continually under fire from a hostile media. It cannot afford to upset its own rank-and-file membership.

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12 thoughts on “Why is Labour restricting selection of Parliamentary candidates?

  1. paulrutherford8

    Losing touch with ordinary people is another of the ‘topics’ discussed last week – as I mentioned elsewhere.

    I absolutely agree with your comment about the ‘last paragraph’. I believe the Lords ought to be an elected body. At least partially.

    There can be no place for even an allegation of corruption in politics these days. The truth will always find a way of making itself known. Especially nowadays… in the ‘digital age’.

  2. jeffrey davies

    The effect of this change is to deprive rank-and-file activists and ordinary party members of the right to a full one member, one vote selection as envisaged by John Smith.
    now is this ploy to stop more leftys getting in or to stop far right getting in

    1. Joan Edington

      Whatever the reason, this is bound to cost Labour votes from the ever more disillusioned rank and file who used to believe that it was a party of the people. I know that the referendum in Scotland was an entirely different thing to an election but it did indicate up here, as has been shown in England since, that there is a strong desire for more power in the regions rather than the enforced will of the centralised parties.

  3. Guy Ropes

    The Labour Party hierarchy involved in corruption ? – and not being democratic?:……………….. I simply can’t believe it. You’ll be suggesting that UKIP supporters write to The Guardian next.

  4. amnesiaclinic

    Absolutely right Mike. It stinks of corruption. Exactly what Labour does not need.

    Good post to highlight this. I hope Milliband is listening and good for Tom Watson as well!

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I hear the Green Party is making a very bad name for itself in Brighton. In that context, it seems unlikely any Labour members would want to.

      1. Steve Kind

        Oh tut tut Mike! I’m sure you can do better than that (although TBF I guess you were replying in kind 😉 )

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        It’s as I put it – I’d heard disturbing things about the situation in Brighton and in those circumstances it seemed unlikely to me that Labour members would want to change sides.
        In many ways I approve of the Greens – they have some very good policies. I do have doubts about their management skills, though.

  5. Mike Sivier Post author

    Ian Duncan sent this reply. Unfortunately another commenter has complained about an offensive word in his avatar. Rather than continue causing offense, I’ve decided to repeat his words in a comment of my own. I won’t keep doing this forever though, Ian, so if you want to continue being seen here, please change your avatar to one that won’t cause offence!

    Ian Duncan writes: I think Labour members in the affected seats should unite and send a letter to Miliband promising to not vote for the parachuted candidate and maybe cause a fuss in the local press.

    The leadership need to know the party isn’t their personal plaything.

Comments are closed.