Row upon row: Wakefield selection, more partygate fines and beergate latest

Katie Neame
Wakefield, West Yorkshire. © Dawid Dobosz/Shutterstock.com
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Labour has been accused of breaching its own rules, LabourList can reveal – specifically, the rules for managing the selection of parliamentary candidates. An email from the regional director of the North West Labour Party shows them telling a member of the Wakefield Constituency Labour Party executive that “there is one place available to the CLP on the panel to decide upon the longlist and the shortlist”. Members allege that the instruction is in contradiction of a rule change passed at the annual Labour conference in 2021 – which states that there should be three local reps.

Why does this matter? The party narrowed down the field of prospective candidates yesterday as it unveiled a shortlist of two: Kate Dearden and Simon Lightwood. Neither live in the constituency, and members complained as locals Jack Hemingway, Michael Graham and Jakob Williamson did not make the cut. LabourList understands that the process was run in line with guidance issued by the national executive committee in October last year and other recent by-election selections: Old Bexley and Sidcup, North Shropshire and Erdington. Read the full story here.

In other news, Downing Street has now racked up more than 100 fines over ‘partygate’. Labour noted that this “century of fixed-penalty notices” gives Boris Johnson and his colleagues the “dubious distinction” of receiving more fines than any other location. Criticising No 10 over partygate has become a slightly trickier tightrope to walk for Labour since the ‘beergate’ row erupted. But Thangam Debbonaire stressed that there is “simply no comparison with the industrial-scale partying” in Downing Street.

Following on from the ‘party that never happened‘ story on Monday, Politico has reported this morning that senior executives from the Labour Party held an in-person meeting of at least 15 people on June 10th 2021. At the time, workers were being encouraged to work from home if possible and social distancing rules were still in place. A party official said the event had not broken any rules and all appropriate mitigation measures had been taken.

While not ideal for Starmer the day after the additional fines for Downing Street were announced, this particular event does not weaken the argument that the behaviour of the Labour leader and his team is incomparable to that of No 10. This work event took place when working from home was encouraged, not mandated. It is hardly the same as the pre-planned birthday party, which landed Johnson a fine, or the rampant rule-breaking culture revealed by the more than 100 fixed-penalty notices handed out in a workplace for which he is ultimately responsible.

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