13 members of the Sedgefield local Labour Party executive have resigned following the announcement of the longlist for the constituency’s next parliamentary candidate amid accusations of a “stitch-up” in the selection process.
In a statement released this afternoon, the Sedgefield Constituency Labour Party (CLP) officers declared that it had become “abundantly clear” that the voice of the CLP, its officers and local members are “disposable” to the party.
Included on the list of signatories is Sedgefield CLP chair Paul Daly who had put himself forward for selection in the constituency. He tweeted on Monday that there had been a “stich-up” in the process when he was left off the longlist.
Daly said: “Not even a soft left candidate with super nominations on the longlist. I had a great deal of trade union and socialist society backing including [ASLEF], [Socialist Educational Association], [FBU], [TSSA] super nominations and [UNISON] and [CWU] branches.
“Sadly this didn’t matter. My “political judgement” which I can only assume translates as democratic socialist, in relation to my work with [the Socialist Think Tank] and my own social media describing criticism I heard about [Keir] Starmer kept me off the longlist.”
The CLP officers said in their statement today: “After years of hard work and dedication to Sedgefield CLP, it has now become abundantly clear, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the voice of the CLP, its officers and Sedgefield members as a whole are disposable to the party.
“Our labour is used when needed and actively discouraged when it becomes a hindrance. We as officers cannot in good conscious [sic] continue on with our work, when every decision is taken out of our hands, even the ones we were elected to carry out.
“We do hope that one day real democracy, fairness and solidarity will find its way back to our CLP, but at present, the direction does not represent us and our beliefs.”
The longlist for the constituency has been confirmed as former Haringey councillor Alan Strickland, Blackburn with Darwen councillor Vicky McGurk, writer and campaigner Ash Singh and Laura Harris.
Daly told LabourList: “The process followed in the Sedgefield selection was the final straw in what has been a descent into a joyless, hopeless and undemocratic experience of being a CLP officer since Starmer and [David] Evans took control.”
“The whole process appears to be set up in order to ensure that one candidate, Alan Strickland, who has united Haringey against him and will appear corrupt and out of touch to constituents, will have a clear run,” he argued.
Daly added: “We believed members deserved a real choice, and if the process had been fair, we might have seen a local candidate succeed. If the Labour Party are unwilling to give members a real choice, we are unwilling to volunteer our time and effort towards a project that does not believe in us, nor us in it.
“The selection process is as much of a facade as Starmer’s ten pledges have proven to be. Personally, I would like to place on record my thanks to the wonderful CLP officers and the amazing members who we can no longer in good conscience say that the Labour Party values.”
Momentum argued that the seat is being “stitched up” for “Labour right-affiliated” Strickland and highlighted the former councillor’s involvement in the controversial Haringey Development Vehicle, a local housing project that saw the council partner with a private developer.
Back in June, the Labour leader of Stroud council Doina Cornell criticised the decision to exclude her from the longlist for the Stroud parliamentary selection process over concerns about historic social media activity. Cornell declared that the reasoning behind her exclusion was “spurious and partisan”.
Cornell, whose candidacy was backed by trade unions Unite, CWU, FBU, TSSA, ASLEF and USDAW, revealed that the party’s panel had “made the decision not to include me on the longlist” despite her being “the local candidate with a long track record of making the lives of people in Stroud better”.
The party was also accused of breaching its own selection rules in relation to the process to pick the Wakefield by-election candidate earlier this year, leading to the executive committee of the local party resigning in protest after three local candidates were not included in the shortlist put to the membership.
The Labour Party has been contacted for comment.