NEC members take leadership to task on anti-democratic manoeuvres to deprive members of chance to select parliamentary by-election candidate
SKWAWKBOX has obtained details of the five key points of a letter sent last week by left members of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) to the party’s leader Keir Starmer, acting general secretary David Evans and deputy leader Angela Rayner about the Hartlepool selection debacle.
NEC members demanded to know ‘with the greatest urgency’ why a risibly short selection process was imposed by the leadership after the sitting MP Mike Hill resigned with immediate effect, depriving working people of the chance to apply. They also challenged the lack of transparency about who else applied before Starmer and co decided to impose a ‘long’ list of just a single (and already tarnished) candidate – and demanded full details of the collusion of Keir Starmer’s office with right-wingers in Hartlepool to block anyone but former MP Paul Williams, despite problems with his lack of knowledge of the area.
And they pointed out the further attack on member democracy, demanding that the process be re-opened and candidates shortlisted by a completely new panel of NEC members:
1. We would like to know with the greatest urgency why there was only a 28-hour selection process window to apply from announcement of the former MP’s resignation to the deadline for application submissions. Moreover, the majority of this time was during working hours and could not have reasonably given a working person the time to hear about the announcement and to write an application. We feel this brings into question any expectation that this process would fairly appraise all applicants and undermines the ability of working class, disabled or simply busy candidates to apply.
2. We would like clarity on how many applicants there were and the diversity of said applicants, as well as knowledge of who sat on the panel and took this decision. We would like to lodge our discomfort that fellow NEC colleagues were happy to agree a single-candidate “long”-list containing only one white man. We feel this has denied local constituency members their ability to have agency over the candidate they select and goes against the party’s democratic principles and the fight for a more representative parliament.”
3. During the process a memo was leaked, written by the chair of the CLP, stating that the party would need confirmation in writing from the CLP’s executive in order to favour a certain candidate. We would like to know who communicated this information to the CLP and upon whose instruction.”
4. Had there been any semblance of a democratic process, the inappropriate nature of this candidate may well have come to light before his selection.”
5. In light of this new information, and in what will be a high-profile campaign with increased scrutiny of the candidate, we ask that the process be reopened and for a new panel to be convened tomorrow (Sunday 21st March) to resolve this issue. We look forward to your immediate action on this matter.”
The party’s behaviour has already been disastrous, even if imposing a centrist EU-ultra in an overwhelmingly leave seat hadn’t already been electoral idiocy. Tragically for Labour and a country desperately in need of real change, there are no signs of the party hierarchy seeing sense, let alone embracing it.
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