Labour’s selection race to determine its next mayoral candidate in Liverpool is set to reopen after “careful consideration” – and no previously shortlisted candidate is being invited to join the new process.
The party last week suspended the process to determine who will stand to be the next directly-elected mayor of Liverpool in May. Shortlisted candidates Wendy Simon, Ann O’Byrne and Anna Rothery were reinterviewed on Friday.
It has now been confirmed that none of the three local individuals who had been shortlisted by a selection panel earlier this month are now being invited to apply for Labour’s reopened selection contest.
Announcing the decision this afternoon, a Labour spokesperson said: “After careful consideration, Labour is reopening the selection for Liverpool Mayor.
“We are committed to ensuring members are able to choose the right candidate to stand up against the Conservatives, lead Liverpool out of the coronavirus crisis and fight for the resources that the city desperately needs.”
It is understood that new nominations must be in by 12pm on February 25th and ballots will be distributed to local Labour members from March 8th. They will need to be returned by 12pm on March 29th.
Party sources have suggested that the reasons for restarting the selection in this way are linked to serious issues around Liverpool corruption investigations, but local sources have expressed anger over the move.
A Momentum spokesperson commented: “Another bad day for democracy within the Labour Party. Delaying the ballot and then removing candidates with no explanation looks for all the world like a stitch-up to exclude left-wing candidates.”
Update, 4.20pm: LabourList understands that Liverpool councillor Anna Rothery, who had been in the running, intends to seek an injunction if the party does not reverse the decision to reopen the process in this way.
“Like many people across our city and our movement, I’m shocked by the party’s chaotic handling of the selection for Liverpool mayor. Instead of a positive, unifying campaign for our city, we are faced with what looks like an undemocratic failure of process,” she said.
Rothery added that she welcomed the decision last week “to include more scrutiny of candidates” but “not to remove transparency and accountability from the process”.
“I hope party HQ sees the outrage its decision has caused across our city and the harm it is doing to our party’s reputation and changes course. If the decision stands, then I will be left with no choice but to challenge it legally.”
Joe Anderson announced on December 10th that he was stepping aside as Liverpool mayor, following his arrest earlier that month along with four other men on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation.
The directly-elected mayor, who first took office in 2012 after serving as council leader, was administratively suspended from the Labour Party on the same day of his arrest pending the outcome of the case.
Currently on unpaid leave, Anderson had been reselected as Labour’s candidate but confirmed on December 31st that he would not be seeking re-election as mayor. Merseyside Police rebailed him until February.
Anderson said he was “disappointed’ by the police decision. He has pledged to “continue to fight to demonstrate that I am innocent of any wrongdoing” and “protect my legacy as mayor of this city of which I am proud”.