The selection process for choosing Labour candidates to fight next May’s London council elections is currently taking place. I’ve had lots of very disturbing stories of good councillors and potential candidates being left off the panel, which means they are prevented from going to wards to be considered. In quite a few places, the Regional Party has been involved.
There have always been a few good comrades treated unfairly, but this time it’s much more serious and much more systematic. I’ve been told that, in Barking and Dagenham, some 15 sitting councillors have been turned down for the panel.
One example, in North London, shows just how bad the situation is. A Party member, who has been a local councillor in the past for 12 years (including 5 years as Chair of Planning), with an exemplary record of never voting against the Group Whip and never criticising the Group or Party in public, has been rejected. He has served on his ward EC for most of the past 20 years, including as Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary and Treasurer, and also as GC and RGC delegate, governor and community activist. He has campaigned in almost every national, local and local bye-election over the past 20 years.
The letter the member received gave the following reasons for his rejection: ‘did not demonstrate a serious commitment to the Labour Party; lack of motivation towards becoming a Labour candidate’. This ruling is completely indefensible. I did note that in his personal statement the member said: ‘I disagreed strongly with the invasion of Iraq and demonstrated and argued strongly against that war in all available forums’.