Several candidates in Labour’s ruling body by-elections – for which voting started on Monday – have called on the party to pause the process amid further suspensions of their rivals.
Five candidates have so far been suspended during the course of the national executive committee contests to replace Nav Misha and Claudia Webbe as local party representatives and Keith Vaz as BAME rep.
One of those, Jo Bird, has since been reinstated as a member and appears on the ballot paper being sent out to members this week, but the other four have been excluded from the contest pending the resolution of complaints made against them.
Commenting on the letter, deputy leadership candidate Richard Burgon told LabourList: “I do know that members are concerned and members don’t want to see complaints about serious matters ever used as an election tool.”
He added that while “suspension in employment is meant to be a neutral act… when there’s an election going on, it’s not really a neutral act if the suspension means that you can’t be a participant in the election”.
The latest letter has been signed by 1,500 members, including five NEC candidates still in the running. It follows an initial letter raising concerns, which was supported by 1,050 members.
Below is the full text of the letter.
Elections have to be fair, and they also have to be seen to be fair. The elections for NEC representatives continue to fall short of this standard.
There are now reports that three further candidates have been suspended and are therefore not eligible to stand in the election [edit: now confirmed as they do not appear on the ballot]. Members have a right to know who has decided to remove them from the process, the rules under which this has happened, and the conditions that had to be met for this step to be taken. We have not received any such explanation, so we cannot have confidence that due process has been followed.
The previous letter about reports of two candidates being suspended was signed by over 1,000 members, including 12 candidates for the NEC and over 50 CLP chairs and secretaries. No response has been received to date. One of the suspended candidates has now been reinstated, but only after missing out on CLP nominations during the busiest part of the nominations period – if this was as a result of unfounded charges, it has had an unacceptable impact on the election process.
At this point we demand that the NEC by-election is suspended, and the party takes immediate steps to clarify its processes so that we can begin to rebuild trust ahead of the full NEC elections that are already planned for later this year.
Peyman Owladi, Luton South (NEC CLP rep candidate)
Trish Williams, Berwick-upon-Tweed (NEC CLP rep candidate)
Jo Bird, Birkenhead (NEC CLP rep candidate)
Chaudhry Qamer Iqbal, Ealing Southall (NEC BAME rep candidate)
Omide Deinali, Easington (NEC BAME rep candidate)
The full list of 1,500 signatories can be found here.