Ealing Labour council candidate selections have been problematic for some time. In February, a story broke about unreasonable hurdles placed in the path of candidates that seemed clearly designed to prevent Corbyn supporters being selected – and which resulted in eighteen of nineteen pro-Corbyn candidates being rejected at the first stage when Labour’s documentation says most people should get past that stage.
‘Ealing Labour for Corbyn’ even made a video about it:
Democracy in Labour is under threat. We're fighting back. To help, watch this video, click the link + RT #Solidarity https://t.co/F5lDE9syUe pic.twitter.com/EruEzW7pwR
— EL4C (@EL4JC) April 8, 2017
That’s dire enough. But new information received by the SKWAWKBOX suggests the problems in Ealing are far from over – and local members continue to believe that the problems are politically driven, with one telling this blog:
The selection meeting results were nullified by region – because the right didn’t like the results.
And the method they claim was used is deeply troubling.
A serious set of allegations were sent to this blog about the conduct of the recent selection meeting for councillors in the Southall Broadway area of Ealing by a senior local Labour figure. The shocking report alleges that:
- the chair of the LCF became extremely angry at the nomination and seconding by the meeting of two white candidates (among others of black/minority ethnic [BME] origin), shouting that members should be nominating only BME candidates
- persisted in asking the meeting to nominate different candidates until the LCF chair was told the nominations had been decided and members were not willing to nominate others
- the Chair then waved and demanded to know why two white candidates had been nominated when there were other BME candidates on the list
- raised objection – in spite of being a prominent LGBT activist herself – to one of the candidates being gay because Southall was allegedly intolerant of the LGBT community
- threatened that if those two nominated candidates were selected she would have to cancel the meeting
The members who contacted this blog stated that they were deeply offended and insulted, but even more worried about the potential for racial tension through what they felt was intimidation.
According to local members, six BME candidates were selected as well.
Two days later, the following email went out from the LCF chair:
The complaints referred to as already ‘reviewed and upheld’ do not appear to concern the alleged behaviour of the LCF Chair, as she is the one sending the email and that would not require the meeting to be re-run.
The angry local members believe this to be the result of the threat to annul the meeting and say that the Chair should be relieved of her position.
The SKWAWKBOX contacted the LCF Chair and she issued the following statement denying the allegations:
None of this is true. The London regional Labour Party decided to rerun the shortlisting meeting owing to complaints from branch members, which were upheld.
I have not yet seen the complaints in writing, but I understand they related to the chair of the local ward allegedly manipulating the vote when he handed out ballot papers.
All those eligible to stand will remain eligible next time.
Standard procedure at Labour meetings is to encourage members to consider choosing under represented groups, including women and BAME candidates.
As a longstanding BAME and LGBT activist in the trade union and labour movement, I support that practice and I hope all Labour colleagues would share the same commitment to equality.
Lewis Cox, one of the candidates to whom the Chair is alleged to have objected, has written the following complaint to Labour’s regional HQ:
Dear Mr Simpson
I am writing to raise an official complaint about Ealing’s LCF Chair & Procedures Secretary Miss __________.
My complaint is in regards to Miss ________’s conduct at Southhall Broadway’s shortlisting meeting which took place on Monday 17th July 2017. Miss _______ made comments at the meeting which were racist and homophobic.
I have been informed by members present at that meeting that Miss ________ instructed members to only nominate candidates who live in Southall Broadway. There is no rule in place which states candidates have to live in the ward they are hoping to represent. The Labour leader of Ealing Council himself represents a ward in Ealing North CLP yet he lives several miles away in Ealing Central & Acton CLP. Miss ________ informed members that I lived in another ward and therefore I would not be able to represent their views if selected. I would like to know why Miss ________ in her role as Procedures Secretary was deliberately misleading members present at that meeting?
During the meeting Miss _________ challenged members for nominating two white candidates, one of them being me. Not only is this clearly racist but is a disgusting attitude to have. To suggest I am not capable of representing the members of Southall Broadway because of the colour of my skin goes against everything we in the Labour Party believe in. My fiancé is BAME and his family live in Southall and they are equally as disgusted as I am in Miss ________’s racist comments and I hope that immediate action will be taken to address this.
Finally and most alarming to me is that once members at the meeting had shortlisted 6 candidates Miss ________ informed them that not only had they selected two white candidates but they should also be aware that one of the “white” candidates (myself) also identifies as LGBT. She felt this was an important point to raise as, in her opinion residents of Southall Broadway are “intolerant of the LGBT community” and therefore members should not shortlist myself for that reason. I really cannot find the words to express how hurt and offended I am by these comments.
Miss ______ had absolutely no right to discuss my sexual orientation at the meeting and using it as a reason not to shortlist me is clearly homophobic. Miss _______ herself identifies as LGBT and I am not only shocked that she would advise members not to vote for a fellow LGBT member but also base this on an offensive assumption that Southall residents are all homophobic.
If it were true that all members and residents of Southall Broadway are homophobic then we should challenge these attitudes head on and encourage more LGBT members to stand and not pander to homophobia.
Of the 53 Ealing Labour Councillors only 1 identifies as LGBT. The LGBT community is massively underrepresented within the Ealing Labour Group.
I have received much support from many members of Southall Broadway and I know they share my disgust at Miss ______’s comments.
I think it is also worth pointing out that Miss ________ is both Chair of Ealing’s LCF and Procedures Secretary. There are numerous members on Ealings LCF and I am not confident that Miss ________ holding both positions is the best thing for a clear and fair selection process.
Miss _______’s partner is also on the list of potential candidates. There is clearly a conflict of interest here too.
The SKWAWKBOX contacted Labour HQ to ask for comment on this situation but received a less than illuminating,
We do not comment on internal selection processes.
Whatever the truth of the situation, it seems clear that there are serious issues in Ealing that need to be addressed as a matter of urgency – and that a significant number of members feel that problems have been manufactured as a means of winnowing out Corbyn-supporting candidates.
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