Insiders say candidates told not to announce selection to protect ‘fanfare’ – while group selecting candidates to appear on stage or by Zoom with Labour leader includes senior staffer behind 1am harassment-disciplinary email to Young Labour chair that was ‘rescinded’ with grovelling apology
Keir Starmer is pinning his hopes on a conference relaunch (yes, another one) that involves him appearing with a set of candidates selected under neo-Labour’s new programme to bypass the wishes of local members – under the excruciatingly cheesy tag ‘Starmer’s stars’ – according to Labour sources.
Labour recently put out a call for applicants to stand for Parliament who didn’t even have to be current party members but would all be strictly vetted to make sure there was no embarrassing left politics in their social media history, in what was widely seen as yet another attempt to bypass the local democracy of Labour members and ensure the party only selects the most anodyne drones and careerists in future.
The deadline for applications to Labour’s ‘future candidates programme’ was extended last month in what may have been a sign of a dearth of applicants – and the announcement of a list of successful candidates was supposed to happen by last Friday. Unsurprisingly, Labour staff were behind on meeting the deadline and so have been working late – which fits with the embarrassing and later ‘rescinded’ 1am disciplinary email to Young Labour chair Jess Barnard.
And insiders say candidates are being told not to announce anything about their selection so that Starmer can bring out ‘Starmer’s stars’ on stage (and some by weblink) as a ‘surprise’ on the day of his conference speech, in the rather desperate hope of creating a ‘fanfare’ and the appearance of some kind of buzz about his policy-free party.
But the candidates look set to be as drab and bland as can be imagined. Each applicant had to agree, on their application form, to be probity checked – a task involving hours of social media trawls and clearly designed to ensure no left candidates get through, as any comments about solidarity with Palestinians or a liking for radical policies will be a red flag.
All this will be accompanied by a blitz on any national, regional and local media outlets friendly to Starmer and the Labour right. Successful candidates are believed to include a children’s author.
One of the team involved in the selections by-passing local party democracy is understood to be the same senior staffer who ordered a temporary staffer to send out the Barnard disciplinary email at 1am on World Suicide Prevention Day.
If correct, then at least one person influencing the process has a personal and factional agenda that may not wholly align with that of Starmer and his sidekick David Evans, potentially spoiling Starmer’s ‘Blair babes’ photo opportunity – a disaster when Starmer is pinning all his hopes on his conference speech and latest relaunch.
But either way, Starmer – fresh from his ‘WTF’ farce – is going to be attempting to present blancmange as something exciting – and he is conducting a similar exercise by turning his conference speech into a 14,000-word treatise that, despite its length, is still expected to contain no policies.
Meanwhile MPs will be waiting to see not only who Evans’s hand-picked candidates are but whether they are likely to be standing themselves at the next election – facing boundary changes that could cost them their seat has created a culture of fear of offending or criticising Evans and Starmer, as reprisals by blocking hopes of re-selection are clearly a danger.
No wonder the existing set of drones have been cheering at PLP meetings.
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