The SKWAWKBOX has covered at length the battle in the London borough of Enfield between a broad coalition of Labour members and officials from all wings of the party and a group they allege has taken over the council by anti-democratic means.
Those means included huge – and at least partially admitted – departures from proper procedure in the selection of council candidates overseen by the Labour officer who is now council leader – and the ‘coup’ resulted in the deselection of every sitting black councillor, as well as in the selection and ultimately election of councillors who failed to pass selection interviews.
Members across the borough, as well as the council’s deputy leader and around half of its Cabinet, called on Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) to investigate and intervene – and aspects of the story broken exclusively by the SKWAWKBOX were picked up by national media last weekend.
On Tuesday, the SKWAWKBOX published transcripts of leaked recordings – of a meeting of the Enfield ‘LCF’ (local campaign forum), attended by Labour’s then-regional director – that proved that Labour’s right-dominated London regional office was fully aware of the issues.
And tonight, this blog publishes transcripts of further leaked recordings that show the discussions about the extremely suspicious alterations to the recommendations made by interviewers concerning the potential candidates they had interviewed.
Those alterations favoured candidates who, once elected, voted in the LCF secretary who had overseen their selection – and in one case, ruled out a candidate whom the interviewers had recommended for acceptance.
An investigation by local officers listed the large number of discrepancies in detail – in the excerpt from the results shown below, candidates rejected by interviewers as suitable candidates for May’s local elections but presented to the LCF as approved shown in green:
In total, five candidates were passed on as ‘yes’ when they had been either assessed as not yet ready or a straight ‘no’. Another eight candidates were put forward as approved even though the interviewers made no recommendation at all.
The transcript covers discussion of the fact that ‘mandatory’ questions were not asked of some candidates and, in particular, of the changes that were made to the judgment of the interviewers.
In the discussion below, ‘LCF male delegate 1’ is the same delegate as in the first article. Female LCF delegates start from number three because one and two are depicted in the first article. Emphases have been added by the SKWAWKBOX:
LCF MALE DELEGATE 1
My first question to the Procedure Secretary is at what stage did you discover that the agreed LCF questions were not being put to the candidates, and when you did discover it, what did you do about it and why did you not inform this body of what had been taking place?
My second point is we had a number of anomalies in the reporting of the interview assessment panels’ findings.
We had candidates marked ‘potential’ who were reported to the LCF as ‘yes’.
We had a ‘yes’ that was reported to the LCF as a ‘no’.
And we had a ‘no’ that was reported to the LCF as a ‘yes’.
Now, I’ve asked this question, others have asked this question. At the last LCF meeting, we produced 27 questions for the Procedure Secretary and the Secretary to answer. So I would like to ask very specifically: Why was false information from interview panel assessments forms given to this body?
LCF PROCEDURE SECRETARY
By that you mean the potential candidates being false information? We got the… er… okay from region so that they would be classed as… er… a ‘yes’ vote. So that’s how they were assessed as a ‘yes’ vote. So that’s the answer to that.
LCF MALE DELEGATE 1
The ‘no’s’ changed to ‘yes’es’ and the yes’es changed to ‘no’s’… how did that happen?
LCF PROCEDURE SECRETARY
Well they didn’t change. I can’t see how they changed.
LCF MALE DELEGATE 1
Nor can I. Nor can I. We have one ‘no’ reported as a ‘yes’ and ‘yes’ that was reported as a ‘no’. And we’ve asked this question on numerous occasions and we haven’t had an answer.
LCF FEMALE DELEGATE 3
[LCF Male Delegate 1] is correct. There was one who was a ‘yes’ who we found in the ‘no’ pile. And there was a ‘no’ who we found in the ‘yes’ pile.
There were people who the interview panel said that this person had potential [to be candidate] for 2022, who was given to the LCF as a ‘yes’.
There was another person where the panel had said that this person does not demonstrate that they understand what a councillor does, and that person was put through as a ‘yes’.
So when the LCF made the decision to endorse all the ‘yes’ people on the panel we didn’t know that there were those people that the interview panel had not actually said to go through.
LCF FEMALE DELEGATE 4
The bit I don’t understand is that I don’t know what’s gone wrong. Because I know I’ve worked jolly hard to make sure that every bit of the procedures, I’ve shared. And that is more frustrating, more heart-breaking, more shameful than anything I’ve had to deal with in the labour party in the last 35 years.
LCF FEMALE DELEGATE 5
I just want to start by saying when I look back to when I joined the Labour party I was very proud, very proud of what the Labour party stands for, very proud of the values.
And I look at what it is today, and I just can’t process. And I feel so sad. That the Labour party stands for fairness and justice. And this is not fair. And this is not just.
The biggest error I have seen, and it is one of many, is where we decided to set and ask the same set [interview] questions. It doesn’t matter what the answers are, you have to ask the same questions. The same questions were not asked [of the candidates].
Everyone should be given the same opportunities. And I am sad to find out that was not the case.
Going on to the assessments, again I’m baffled how you would have two ‘no’s’ and one ‘yes’ [from a 3-person interview panel] and that [the overall assessment] equates to a ‘’yes’.
And two ‘yes’es’ and one ‘no’ and that [overall assessment] equates to a ‘no’. And maybe two or three ‘no’s’. I could go on and on and on.
The leaked transcript makes absolutely clear the contorted, distorted process that ended up approving candidates whom interviewers had rejected – some of whom could barely string a sentence together – but whose votes were crucial in ousting the popular incumbent to install a new council leader: the LCF secretary who oversaw their selection as candidates.
Just as importantly the transcripts show, again, that the problems with the process were made absolutely clear well before May’s local elections took place.
The NEC is investigating the issue. That investigation must be thorough and conducted without fear or favour. Local female councillors have already reported attempts at intimidation when they wrote to Labour’s National Executive Committee.
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