Willsman nomination shenanigans III

It seems that Uncut was right: Pete Willsman is fulfilling a long standing ambition to move from south east London to east Oxford.

Sources in both constituency Labour parties (CLPs) have confirmed that the veteran left-winger yesterday transferred his party membership from Erith and Thamesmead – the south east London suburb in which he has lived for years – to Oxford East.

Cynics are suggesting that this move has been prompted by Erith and Thamesmead having declined to nominate Willsman for re-election to Labour’s ruling national executive committee (NEC). Without such nomination from his home CLP, he is ineligible to stand.

On this occasion, cynics are right. After failing to be nominated at their meeting two Fridays ago, Willsman tried to persuade members and officers in Erith and Thamesmead to reconsider their decision. Having failed, he decided to “move” to Oxford East, the (real) home CLP of national Labour party chair and fellow grassrooter, Ann Black.

As one comrade in Erith and Thamesmead has pointed out, the grassroots alliance flyer we published yesterday, though it now omits Willsman’s home CLP, does give an address in Plumstead, SE18 and a phone number for further information. This is Willsman’s ‘former’ home and phone number. Let us hope the mail and calls are being forwarded.

Several readers have asked how Willsman managed to so alienate his formerly home CLP that they refused to nominate him. A helpful comrade from the Plumstead lands responds as follows:

“He has basically pissed off two thirds of our GC over the course of time. On a number of occasions, he claims to have represented the CLP’s view at the NEC but has in fact done the contrary. As our CLP has historically supported grassroots alliance candidates, he thought we would support him as we have in the past. However the majority of our GC, irrespective of which wing of the party they may identify with, were no longer willing to give him our support.”

Another SE18 stalwart suggested that there had been a particularly sensitive difference of interpretation over how Willsman said he voted at the NEC on all women shortlists, and how he actually did.

East Oxford comrades are giving him a soft landing, so far. They report that he was there several times during the election. Which didn’t seem surprising: he is friendly with Ann Black and it is a marginal seat.

Much stranger was that he turned up for their regular canvassing session last Sunday, announcing that he’d moved in to Iffley Road after toying with moving to Oxford for years.

Oxford East has its general committee (GC) meeting this Friday, which Willsman has apparently already mentioned that he’ll be attending.

Uncut’s sources report that Oxford East is a “very ecumenical” CLP which will be “likely to nominate him if he asks”.

Which leaves at least a couple of questions for party general secretary, Ray Collins.

First, if your home CLP refuses to nominate you, which disqualifies you under the rules, is it fine subsequently to change your “home” CLP, such that you get a new “home” nomination in the end?

Second, if you transfer your membership to a CLP on a Wednesday, are you a full member of that CLP 48 hours later? Uncut’s recollection is that the quaint rule in which CLPs have eight weeks to object to a new member application is still actually a rule. Indeed, in places like Birmingham it is a standard mechanism of control by exclusion. (Another story, which we plan to tell another time).

Uncut understands that national Labour party officers are meeting this week to consider these questions. We wish them well with their deliberations.

Anybody with information which might help them to make up their minds should email it to us.

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5 Responses to “Willsman nomination shenanigans III”

  1. Adam says:

    Alas, the eight week rule applies only to new joiners – not transfers-in.

    Nonetheless, the question you’ve posed for Ray Collins remains entirely valid: if someone needs a home CLP nomination to stand, but anyone is able to nominate any CLP they care to as their home CLP, what’s the point of having the rule in the first place?

  2. Alex says:

    I am disappointed to hear this. I have known for some time that most of the Grassroots Alliance exaggerate their left wing credentials to get elected, but these sort of shenanigans are in a different category. If Willsman does get nominated by the back door, I will certainly not be voting for him. There are other Grassroots Alliance candidates who deserve support more than him and Ann Black.

  3. eric says:

    known Pete for decades he’ll bend the rules whatever way he needs to and then harangue the Labour Party whenever he feels rules are being interpreted against his/the “left’s” interests. He’s not the only politician with double standards of course, and to some extent he could be seen as a lovable rogue, but hopefully people will recognise that its time somebody else replaceD him on the NEC whichever part of the Party they come from.

  4. Ann Black says:

    Pete Willsman has already been nominated by Oxford East because members know and appreciate the time he spends here and the work he put into helping us get the highest voter ID rate in the country and turning a notional LibDem seat into a 4,500 Labour gain.

    There is a wider issue though: should a few dozen people in Erith & Thamesmead, or anywhere else, deprive tens of thousands of members of a full choice of candidates? It may be the rules, but it negates any normal definition of democracy. If I could only win re-election by manoeuvring other candidates off the ballot paper, instead of through open debate and a free vote, I wouldn’t bother standing. Give members the power and let them decide.

    Ann Black

  5. P Larkin says:

    When you tell the Birmingham story, will you please also remember that students trying to join Hull East CLP from the university (located in Hull North) were frequently told that Hull East was “full”….

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