Candidate says she incurred hundreds of pounds of campaign expense, only to be levered out anti-democratically
Labour council candidate and Unite activist Andrea Bradley has been deselected by the Labour party as a candidate in Walsall’s council elections – without explanation and after she had already spent a year and a half campaigning for the seat.
And she has been replaced by the incumbent councillor that local Labour members had already voted to deselect.
Bradley was selected as the party’s candidate for Bentley and Darlaston in Walsall – a strong Labour seat – in September 2019. She lives in the ward and has done so for the last 34 years. Had local elections due last year not been delayed by the pandemic, she would almost certainly already be the area’s councillor.
Bradley had spent the last eighteen months leafleting, campaigning, phonebanking, working with the campaign team, campaigning online, building relationships with local businesses and residents, as well as working with local food banks – and incurring expenses of hundreds of pounds in literature and campaign materials that have not yet been reimbursed by the party. All that collapsed when she was summoned to a reselection meeting, in a manoeuvre reminiscent of the party’s ‘coup’ to remove mayoral candidates in Liverpool.
After that meeting, she was removed as a candidate and replaced by the democratically-deselected incumbent councillor, by order of a regional board panel.
On Wednesday 24 March, days before nominations were to go in and only six weeks before the election – with her nomination by branch members already confirmed and communicated to the party, Bradley received an email from Labour’s West Midlands deputy regional director telling her a complaint had been made about her selection and was being upheld by the Labour Party Governance and Legal Unit – but with no information about the nature of the complaint. Bradley has still received no explanation at the time of writing.
Despite interventions by Unite and an NEC member, she was deselected.
Bradley was subsequently told:
You demonstrated a commitment to campaigning for local residents and the party. However, after much deliberation, they thought that there was not quite enough difference in the candidates to justify unseating a sitting councillor.
Bradley believes that the deselection was:
a blatant stitch up based on fabrications of reality and at short notice to prevent me from taking action to defend my position. I believe that a ‘very very senior local figure’ was the instigator of this action. There is more I could say about this but can’t say more as I am fearful of further punitive action, which might follow.
I believe I have been targeted in this way for two reasons. Firstly because I am socialist and therefore seen as on the left in the party. I was a vocal supporter of Jeremy Corbyn during his time as leader.
Secondly, a small minority group of figures with a high profile in my branch and constituency General Committee hold a view that if an existing councillor or other elected person wishes to continue, they should be allowed to do so. They don’t believe in any democracy, they believe in entitlement.
I have never s***posted on social media against the party or leadership, or any individual, yet I was removed ruthlessly by the right wing of the party.
To sum up after 18 months of campaigning including the distribution of thousands of leaflets, hundreds of doors knocked. After spending hundreds of hours. Having put my private and professional life on hold for the Labour party, at huge personal and financial cost and sacrifice of my family life, [as well as] having gone part-time at work for the last 18 months.
I believe this whole saga shows the complete contempt with which our membership is treated. The total disregard for human compassion and any respect for rank and file activists. If they can do that to me, they can do that to anyone. They have shown it is their party, their rules, their selections, their game. We arent even players despite our activism and our membership being the life and soul of this party..
The manoeuvres to remove Bradley are being reflected in similar tactics all over the country as the Labour right, which whinged continuously over every democratic deselection during Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, wages war to force out democratically-selected left-wing candidates.
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