Itchen members raise concerns over parliamentary selection process

Labour members in Southampton Itchen CLP (constituency Labour party) have contacted the SKWAWKBOX with concerns about the fairness of the process for shortlisting applicants to be their PPC (prospective parliamentary candidate), which closed last night.

Itchen members were given only three days’ notice for the branch/ward nomination meetings that were held last Saturday daytime – one after the other and all at the same venue. This meant that only a few people turned up – below 10% of the total members – and any who have to work on Saturdays were unable to participate. In most branches/wards the nominations were won on the basis of a total of only three or four votes.

Previous candidate Simon Letts, who lost in last year’s General Election, got 5 nominations. Complaints had been raised that Saturday morning meetings were not fair on working class members who have to work on Saturday, but they went ahead anyway.

Letts – who called for Corbyn to resign during the 2016 ‘chicken coup’ – was therefore automatically shortlisted on the votes of what may have been as few as 5% of the membership. Mandatory rules then meant that both female candidates and a BAME (black/Asian/minority ethnic) candidate were also automatically shortlisted.

letts coup.png

In practice, of seventeen applicants most never stood a realistic chance of shortlisting. Seven nomination meetings in one place on the same day with only three days’ notice – a notice period that recently caused the election of a new National Policy Forum chair to be cancelled – seems likely to favour previous candidates with an entrenched power base in the CLP.

Under National Executive Committee guidelines the responsible NEC-appointed representative on the selection committee – in this case, the Chair of the right-wing Labour First group – should decide disputes or complaints but it seems that so far the Progress-linked regional director has fielded and rejected complaints.

Complaints have now been raised with senior Labour figures, but the nomination period ended at midnight last night and the interviews for the final shortlist will now start, with selection hustings scheduled for 10 March. Nonetheless, the process should be suspended and re-run in accordance with the rules. The SKWAWKBOX understands that if this is not done, at least one of the candidates is planning to apply for a court injunction to force the suspension.

If the selection process is not suspended and the final shortlisting hustings proceeds as scheduled, it’s vital that local members turn out in force on 10 March – and cast their vote when the ballot opens – to ensure that Itchen is not saddled again with one of the right-wing options on offer.

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  1. What I find particularly disturbing about this is that even if there was no rule on this, anyone who has a modicum of respect for fair play, and dare I say ethics, would automatically know that to hold such nominations with so short notice AND en masse (7 nomination meeting in one place in the same evening?!) is wrong.

    It will be unforgivable if the NEC do not step in and stop this mockery of a nomination process being allowed to stand.

  2. Yet again the right wing blairtes giving 2 fingers to democracy.
    Will SBox pse report back on any developments re the official complaints. I hope the new NEC will flex it’s powers and recall the process to re-run the selection process properly.

  3. Yes that is a short period of time to hold nominations … anyone would think they were trying to fix it so a certain candidate got in or maybe I’ve just got a suspicious mind.

  4. If the existing rules have been breached, which they HAVE, then surely the results of any votes are invalid, and it should be re-run according to the rules. But even THEY seem inadequate, and surely at least 14 days notice and a minimum attendance of 50% of members would make more sense. That said, why shouldn’t those who are unable to attend for one reason or another be entitled to vote – ie by postal vote or whatever,

  5. I see my comment was not allowed through. As a member in Southampton with knowledge as to what actually is happening I thought it may carry some weight. I don’t know any of the people you have allowed through but as they are not from Southampton their opinions carry no weight as to what is really happening.

    1. My bad. I couldn’t see my comment but now see it is there so my apologies.

      1. Can’t see any comment David ? Pse try again so as to inform us of ” what is really happening “

    2. I don’t see your comment, but as you too are not a member of Southampton Itchen CLP, I don’t see your opinion as carrying any more weight. You are a Councillor for Southampton Test and a member/supporter of Progress/labour first.
      I am a member from Southampton Itchen and found the process to be unfair as has been stated. The timings of the meetings were also complained about. For instance my ward Bargate is the furthest away from where the meetings took place, and were scheduled first. Have you ever tried to get across town using only public transport at that time on a Saturday morning

      1. Thank you Rebecca, it is as I thought and my ” weightless ” opinions have been confirmed . I did Google David and can see that he is a Councillor , case closed as far as I am concerned. One hopes the NEC will insist on a re-reun.

      2. My original comment was not allowed on the site. I did make the point that the selection panel is Momentum dominated so no right wing plot. The Momentum candidate has no record of activity in the local party and is virtually unknown whereas Simon is the council leader been a councillor for years and a party member since 1984. He has and still is on the left of the party and never called for Corbyn to resign. He also fought the seat last year.

      3. @David , irrespective of this info re Simon , the fact is that the vote was called and run in an inordinately unreasonable way for membership to have a fair vote or for other candidates to stand.If as you say Simon is on the left then we shouldn’t have any worries re-running this and allowing the full membership of the area a fair chance vote , wouldn’t you agree ?

      4. I couldn’t attend the meeting so I can’t comment on whether the selection committee is made up of Momentum members, but I do know of at least one member who isn’t. as for “the Momentum candidate being inactive locally” – who is that? Momentum Southampton didn’t endorse any single candidate.

        “Simon Letts being left of the party” – he probably is but it’s very subjective. As for “Simon Letts never called for Corbyn to resign” The Daily Echo disgrees – http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/14584167.Southampton_MP_resigns_from_Jeremy_Corbyn_s_frontbench_team/ and I vaguely recall reading it elsewhere too

  6. Just read a fascinating article over on the Jacobinmag.com relating to the USA Democratic party and their struggles with the Clintonites within the party .They employ exactly they same hall marks of operation , undermining , rule bending etc as illustrated by the situation in Southampton and NPF. Despite setting up a separate commission to try and unify the DNC factions it became clear that the right wanted it to be their way or no way.
    So I fear that here too despite JC’s best efforts and the lefts good intentions to unify and heal, the right wingers still persist in a course of actions that can only result in continuing conflict until they leave or are removed ( expelled for rule breaking or re-selected in the case of MP’s ) .
    My hope is that under the new management of the NEC we will see this process fairly but firmly applied to all , especially those MP’s who set an appalling example by cavorting with Tory MP’s ( Creasy/Phillips + others) in an provocative and juvenile manor to inflame and further destroy any party unity between the right and left.

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