“Stop the stitch up”: More complaints raised by members over selections

Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) has drawn up longlists for parliamentary selections taking place across the country – and many local members in those seats are not happy. Complaints have been raised in almost every local party that will soon be picking a candidate, and there have been widespread grievances raised about “stitch ups”.

On Monday, LabourList reported on concerns among members in: Ealing North, where local councillors Lewis Cox, Bassam Mahfouz and Chris Summers were left off the longlist; Liverpool West Derby, where councillor Nick Crofts who had strong union backing was excluded; and Poplar and Limehouse, where councillor Rachel Blake was cut out apparently to favour Momentum’s Apsana Begum.

But as more longlists are revealed, increasing numbers of complaints are being made. This article will be updated as the situation develops…

Bassetlaw

“This is a not a stitch-up, it’s a bloody tapestry,” local councillor Josie Potts has said about the longlist for John Mann‘s seat. Simon Greaves, leader of Bassetlaw Council since 2012, has apparently been excluded – and there are reports that none of those included are members of Bassetlaw Labour.

“I have a record to be proud of and only asked the party I have loyally serviced since 2002 as a councillor and 2012 as council leader to give me the chance to democratically put my case to local members. It really is an outrage,” Greaves commented.

LabourList has been sent the following longlist by a local source:

  • Lewis Dagnall – Sheffield councillor
  • Sally Gimson – Former Camden councillor, Labour’s 2010 candidate in South Leicestershire
  • Julia Long – CLP chair in Ashfield
  • John Morgan – CLP secretary in Grantham
  • Keir Morrison – Ashfield councillor, deputy leader of the Labour group
  • Catherine Tite – North East Derbyshire councillor, Labour’s 2017 candidate in Gainsborough

It is thought locally that Keir Morrison is the candidate favoured by Labour’s NEC. He cannot stand in Ashfield, where the selection will be made from an all-women shortlist.

City of Durham

Members on the Labour left in the constituency of Roberta Blackman-Woods are frustrated that Hannah Walter has been left off their longlist. The applicant was expected to be included as a BAME woman, teacher and community activist on the Labour left.

Ben Sellers, who works for neighbouring MP and frontbencher Laura Pidcock, tweeted that he was “disappointed” by her exclusion. She was supported by the CLP chair and ten other members of the executive committee.

But it has been pointed out that Walter has previously stood as a parliamentary candidate from the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in 2010 and been a member of the Socialist Party, which could explain her exclusion – though this does not necessarily disqualify an applicant.

LabourList has been told by a local source that the truncated, NEC-led selection process is not shorter than the normal local party-led process, which was set to be completed by October 19th.

Some suspect that the NEC is favouring the selection of widely respected Mary Foy, the chair of Blaydon CLP and a portfolio holder on Gateshead Council who was nearly picked as Labour’s candidate for Blaydon in 2017.

The selection will be made from an-all women shortlist.

Coventry South

The local party in this West Midlands seat is currently represented by Jim Cunningham who is stepping down after 27 years in the Commons. Members have issued a statement titled ‘Stop the Stitch Up’, expressing “dismay” at the longlist with which they have been presented. It excludes a “number of leading local campaigners”, the members have said, and “feels more reminiscent of the machine politics of days gone by than the party democracy we were promised”.

“A candidate parachuted in from outside will lead to a weak campaign, and will be immediately seized upon by the Tories, who are targeting Coventry South as a potential gain,” reads the statement. The authors, a group called ‘Coventry South for a Democratic Selection’, ultimately call on Labour’s NEC to revise the longlist.

It is understood that the largest branch in the constituency party met on Tuesday evening and unanimously condemned the longlist, with members in attendance spanning across factions and supporting several different local applicants. They include:

  • Jim O’Boyle – Coventry councillor, council cabinet member and CLP secretary
  • Maya Ali – Coventry councillor, who defected from the Tories in 2011
  • Becky Gittins – Coventry councillor, who took a council seat from the Tories in May and works for PCS union

The full longlist is not known yet, but it is thought that Labour NEC member Claudia Webbe and Labour organiser Zarah Sultana have been included.

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