Welsh Labour denies democratic candidate selection to its members


Darren Williams is a CLP representative on Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) as well as a member of the Welsh Executive Committee (WEC). Like some other members, he publishes a report on the meetings of the committees.

Last month, the SKWAWKBOX was delighted to announce that Labour’s internal democracy took a step forward as part of the party’s forward planning for the next General Election, with members in key target marginal seats to be given the opportunity to elect the panels who will select their MP candidate shortlists, rather than having them composed of NEC members – all too often with a majority of ‘moderates’.

However, this applied only to English seats, as Welsh and Scottish selections are devolved. The SKWAWKBOX published a list of the English seats and invited interested members to put themselves forward so we can help them get the support they need for their candidacy.

Now Williams’ report (created jointly with fellow member Chris Newman) on the latest WEC meeting makes grim reading for Welsh members who want their democratic say in selections to be no less than that of their English counterparts:

The main item in the General Secretary’s Report from Louise Magee was a paper on Parliamentary Selections in Wales. This set out the procedure to be followed over the coming months to get candidates in place in the seats considered the greatest priority in expectation of another early general election. A paper had been agreed for England at the NEC meeting the previous Tuesday but Wales and Scotland now have devolved responsibility for our own selections. With Labour having won 28 of the 40 Welsh constituencies on 8 June, the remaining 12 seats were divided into 6 “offensive” seats, considered the most winnable and therefore the priority for selection purposes, and 6 “majority” seats, seen as less of an immediate priority.

Those in the “offensive” category are: Aberconwy; Arfon; Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire; Clwyd West; Preseli Pembrokeshire and the Vale of Glamorgan. There would be an initial consultation, leading up to 8 September, on gender balance in these six seats, to determine which ones should choose candidates from an All-Women Shortlist, then the selections should take place immediately in all six, using the established procedures.

Darren pointed out that, when the NEC had agreed procedures for priority marginals in England, this had included the election by GCs or All-Member Meetings of a Selections Committee to oversee the process, providing greater democratic accountability, which should help to address members’ unhappiness at their exclusion from selections for the June election. He proposed that this be incorporated in the arrangements for Wales, rather than simply leaving CLP Executive Committees to make their own arrangements, under the default procedures. This proposal was heavily defeated, however, and the paper was adopted as originally tabled.

In spite of having the relatively simple task of organising selections in only 6 target seats – or even 12 if it did so for all Welsh seats, the party is denying its members equal democratic powers to members in England.

Welsh Labour, which is considered by many to still be excessively influenced by blairite or ‘moderate’ officers and representatives, seems determined to retain control over candidate selection procedures at the expense of the democratic voice and wishes of its members, in spite of developments in England and in spite of the support of a majority of its members for a UK Labour leader who is committed to democracy inside the party.

This needs to change and quickly.

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    1. Yes – bliarites before there was bliar.

      Utterly devoid of any sort of talent, yet still managed to get their snouts firmly entrenched in the Westminster/EU trough AND shoehorn their lad in, too.

      …And don’t get me started on peter hain…

  1. As I understand it, a selection committee can make decisions on which candidates are chosen, but those candidates will be voted on by an all member meeting. Regardless, at least three of those six selection committees are not going to disappoint.


  3. All credit to Darren Williams and Chris Newman. The Labour party’s leadership and machinery in Wales bears no resemblance to Corbyn’s Labour. The election result in Wales was only due to Corbyn, the vision in the manifesto, and the hard slog of supporters. That includes the impact of social media, this blog and hundreds of thousands of previously disenfranchised labour voters. I contributed directly to the UK manifesto from this computer. Could I do that to the Welsh manifesto – of course not. Contribute to candidate selection? Pigs will fly. Darren and his colleagues are showing a clear momentum for change and I for one thank them for that.

  4. Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto and his pristine campaign delivered highly impressive results for the Labour Party at the General Election in June of this year.

    The leadership’s manifesto and national campaign strategy resulted in the annihilation of the Tory’s majority and the conversion of 80 Tory seats into marginals, ready for capture by Labour at the next General Election.

    In addition, the leadership has made it crystal clear that a key Labour project is to increase democracy within the party and that this will be achieved by increasing the representation of rank and file members at every level of the Labour Party.

    All these facts do of course beg the question: just who do the divisive and ill-disciplined right wing members of the Welsh NEC think they are?

    What do they think gives them the right to lord it over members of Welsh CLPs and treat them like second class members? Like serfs.

    By treating members like cattle the Welsh NEC is also arrogantly dismissing out of hand one of the stated priorities of the Labour Party leadership: to democratise the party.

    As a party member in England, I strongly advise members in Wales to push back against these right wing saboteurs of the Labour Party by following our example:

    Rise, like lions after slumber
    In unvanquishable number!
    Shake your chains to earth like dew
    Which in sleep had fallen on you:
    Ye are many—they are few!

    1. It is not the NEC that is making these decisions. It is the Welsh Executive (WEC). They are unfortunately, apart from a few solid socialists like Darren, in the majority right-wing.

      1. My apologies, I reread your comment and you did say the Welsh NEC.

      2. Having said that, the Welsh members are fighting at least as hard as the English members – we just have another layer of r-w bureaucracy to democratise and our ‘leader’ is not currently an elected position.

      3. The WEC is worryingly also continuing with plans to split Welsh Labour off from the central party completely. This is seen as highly divisive and unnecessary by the majority of members, and further evidence of the rw having lost touch with reality. The argument regarding the devolved assembly etc carry little weight for most members. Many (quite rightly) questioned the Welsh Manifesto launch in the GE17 and what was hoped to be achieved by it. One hopes that the elections to WEC are properly contested and not allow the sitting members to be deferred to as is too often the case.

        Following some recent events there is now a deep unhappiness with the Welsh regional organisation too, seen as trying to keep UK Labour and it’s leaders at arms length. Without representation on the WEC of the members views (same as NEC) the modernisation and streamlining of the party here is being delayed if not put into reverse.

  5. Some CLPs have rushed through “decisions” claiming meetings will not be held otherwise before the deadline, without the WEC decisions have been circulated, or indeed explained within the context of the NEC decision.

  6. Those with their hands on the levers of power in Welsh Labour seem intent on creating a Corbyn free environment where he doesn’t get invited to Wales, his name is not included on leaflets and his policy goals are ignored too in any literature. The Welsh leadership are resolute in their determination to not expand openness and democracy to ordinary members offering very little consultation on welsh leadership election proposals. There is a belief that it was Carwyn Wot Won it and sadly this misunderstanding of voters behaviour on 8 June may lead to a poor and misdirected strategy whenever the next election arrives

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