Lewisham E selection timetable and by-election date – and likely candidates

A date for the by-election in Lewisham East – the seat vacated by Heidi Alexander’s decision to move to Sadiq Khan’s mayoral office – has been set at 14 June. The selection timetable, which will be unusually short, will be as follows:

  • Thursday 10 May 2018 – mailing to all eligible members with procedure and inviting applications
  • Sunday 13 May (noon) – self-nominations close
  • Sunday 13 May (evening) – NEC long-listing by conference call
  • Monday 14 May (afternoon) – NEC short-listing
  • Wednesday 16 May – selection meeting

It expected to be an all-women, all-BAME shortlist. Candidates who have already declared an interest or are expected to are:

Phyll Opoku-Gyimah

Picture: Phyll Opoku-Gyimah Twitter

Ms Opoku Gyimah, or ‘Lady Phyll’ as she is often known, is currently head of equality at the PCS union and a co-founding director of Black Pride. She has been named by the media as a strong favourite for the candidacy, but will face a tough battle against the well-organised right in Lewisham.

Brenda Dacres

Picture: Brenda Dacre Twitter

Ms Dacres came third in the recent contest for the selection of Labour’s candidate for Lewisham mayor. She is considered by locals to have closer links to the right of the party and supported Owen Smith in the 2016 Labour leadership election.

Sakina Sheikh

Picture: Sakina Sheikh Twitter

Ms Sheikh is a local councillor elected last week, who put in a good performance on Sky after the local elections in spite of the interruptions of the male host and guest. She is considered another pro-Corbyn candidate.

Miatta Fahnbulleh

Picture: Miatta Fahnbulleh Twitter

Chief Executive of the New Economics Foundation, Ms Fahnbulleh is said by locals to be the preferred candidate of Labour First, who are thought to be unhappy with the selection process outlined by the NEC, as they wanted a branch nomination arrangement in order to have a better chance of controlling the candidate list.

She is, however, not yet known to have declared that she will stand.

With such a short timetable for the selection and indeed for the by-election, there will be a flurry of activity among each candidate’s supporters leading into the weekend.

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  1. It is not in the interests of the Labour Party to have any more negative right wing MPs who actively and intentionally undermine the electability of the Labour Party.

    It is also not in the party’s interests to increase the number of right wing members of the party holding positions of influence as they have shown they cannot be trusted to support Labour’s programme for Government when Jeremy Corbyn is returned as prime minister.

    This rules out any candidates supported by the reactionary right wing groups Labour First and Progress.

  2. Skwawkbox, I don’t think an “all-BAME shortlist” is legal under section 104 of the Equality Act 2010 – which does make AWS legal. Section 104 is immensely difficult to parse and understand, but the statutory Code of Practice makes it clearer.

    Essentially you can reserve a certain number of places on the short-list for BAME candidates (if that is proportionate), and I think give certain help like training to those candidates, but an all-BAME short-list is unlawful. (Only in the case “protected characteristic of sex” can you restrict the short-list, making AWS lawful.)

    Here is the quote from the Code of Practice:

    “12.60 Where there is inequality in a party’s representation, the Act permits a political party to adopt selection arrangements that would reserve a fixed number of places on their candidate shortlists for persons who share protected characteristics that are under-represented in the party’s elected candidates on the relevant body. For all protected characteristics other than sex … regardless of the scale of inequality of representation, such selection arrangements cannot require that all persons short-listed must have that characteristic.”

    … Example: A party seeks to improve the diversity of its representation on the council. In selecting candidates for a particular ward, it opts to reserve four places on its shortlist of 10 candidates for people from ethnic minorities and four places for disabled people as people from both protected groups are under-represented among the party’s councillors. The party could not reserve all of the places on its shortlist for disabled people or for people from ethnic minorities.

    Source: Equality Act 2010 Code of Practice: Services, public functions and associations Statutory Code of Practice, Equality and Human Rights Commission (2011), ISBN: 9780108509728, pages 179-182

    1. … NB the link for the Code of Practice is here. Big PDF. You want pages 179-182, or sections 12.54 to 12.64.

    2. You’re right about the Act. The article doesn’t say it will be mandated to be all-BAME, just that it is expected to be all-BAME. There’s no mandating the inclusion of a white person in the list, you’re just not allowed to exclude *because* someone is white

      1. Anyone with formal responsibility must stay away from saying anything like “expected to be all-BAME”. Could have someone who doesn’t make it onto the list going to the courts. I guess to an employment tribunal in the first instance, like those two guys in the 1990s who did that in Labour AWS v.1 to demonstrate that AWS was unlawful sexual discrimination (for a paid electoral position at least) without specific cover from an Act. Started in the employment tribunal and ended up in the House of Lords as I recall!

  3. Didn’t we have an all-BAME shortlist imposed in Gorton last year, though? If so, the NEC could claim there’s a possible precedent set as it was not challenged timeously.

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