Last autumn, the process began of selecting candidates to stand for Labour in the party’s eighty key target ‘marginals’. Out of the spotlight, that process continues, but there are problems with the process that dramatically reduce the chances of applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds getting to stand, let alone reaching Parliament.
Few members who haven’t previously been involved in either standing or promoting a candidate will know much of how it works – of what’s involved or the reality facing those applying for selection. It can be tough even for well-resourced applicants, but for one from a disadvantaged background it can be even harder.
The Welsh seat of Preseli Pembrokeshire, currently occupied by controversial former government minister Stephen Crabb, is one of the tightest marginal seats – he won it in 2017 by a mere 314 votes.
The article below written by Maria Carroll, a supporter of a strong pro-Corbyn applicant to become ‘prospective parliamentary candidate’ (PPC) for Preseli, gives an idea of the challenges faced by, and demands placed on, would-be PPCs from a disadvantaged background:
Mandy Clare a genuine Corbyn supporter who has been with our project to elect Jeremy Corbyn from the start, has been shortlisted to be the Labour candidate to stand against Stephen Crabb at the next General Election. Thanks to local activists and our Corbyn-led manifesto this seat is one of the most marginal and can be snatched from Crabb the anti LGBT MP, the personification of Tory austerity and architect of cuts to those with disabilities.
Mandy now needs your help to enable her as a Corbyn-supporting woman on a low income to remain in the race due to end on 8 July at Hustings.
We all know that the need to ensure MPs that genuinely support our manifesto agenda, are loyal to the leader and will take the fight to the Tories rather than to the front bench are selected for every seat either by selection or reselection.
The current system of selection places immense barriers in the way of disadvantaged people standing as candidates for Labour.
Mandy Clare is one of those disadvantaged by her financial status. Competing to be selected requires campaigning and she simply doesn’t have the cash.
Mandy is one of the brightest political thinkers I have met and has all the skills and qualities we believe Labour MPs should have. But like many of our brightest and our best she does not have money. In fact she is struggling. Not only is she a single parent of three school-age children, she recently lost her job through Tory austerity cuts and now has to manage by freelancing. Despite all that she has given so much of her time to the Labour cause, organising and campaigning, developing others jointly with her CLP and Momentum.
So far it has cost around £1,000 to campaign to members. Some candidates spend an awful lot more. Some even have campaign managers, people who have provided expert services to some of the MPs we have seen successfully elected.
It is not fair.
It is not for us to tell the members of any constituency who they should chose as their labour candidate, and that is not what this campaign is about. It is to ensure that Mandy gets fair access, gets seen and heard and gets the same chance as every candidate. And that all working class, low income members get the same.
That is democracy.
If as many members as possible chip in a little bit, even just £1 we will achieve two very important goals.
Firstly, we will ensue fairness for all, our comrades, like Mandy will get a fair chance and members will get a fair and informed choice from a wider field.
Secondly, if several hundred members, or hopefully thousands, donate even just £1 each, we will ensure Mandy has every chance next Friday and that other candidates after her get the same support.
Thanks for your help. See you here: https://gogetfunding.com/lets-get-a-Corbynista-ppc-for-preseli-Pembrokeshire/
The SKWAWKBOX has endorsed Ms Clare for the candidacy, as have pro-Corbyn MP Chris Williamson and well-known northern activist Mo Azzam. Her full election leaflets in English and Welsh can be downloaded below.