Reverberations from the London Labour party’s botched selection process for its European candidates rumble on: last week critical motions were passed at Streatham, Ilford South and Brixton Hill CLPs.
The emerging focus for unhappiness is the opaque selection criteria used by the London Labour party panel in making their decision. Calls for the regional party to explain the criteria were central to the motions passed last week.
Uncut can help out the quizzical CLPs in their quest for the criteria: there wasn’t any. Don’t take our word for it, this was the response from Joy Johnson, a senior member of the selection panel, when Uncut challenged her on how the selections were made:
“Did I discuss the criteria? That is Alan Olive’s domain and the answer is that there isn’t one…”
That’s right, to be an MEP for Labour, the London party had no preference on the type of experience a candidate should have, their track record or any political achievements. There wasn’t even a mention that being an effective campaigner might be an asset for prospective candidates in a London-wide PR election.
Strange, you might think. For most jobs there is a specific set of criteria against which candidates are scored. Otherwise, where there are several candidates – say, 98 in the case of the London Euro-list selection – how would the panel be able to make a systematic comparison and select the best qualified applicants?
There certainly are detailed criteria for the parliamentary selection process with guidance for constituency selection panels on how to apply them and administer a fair process.
But no, for London Labour, this was all entirely unnecessary. Instead, their approach to selection has been guided by two words: “political judgement.”
These cryptic words are the reason Anne Fairweather wasn’t even called for interview, the reason candidates with limited campaigning experience were selected and why several candidates who met the specification for a parliamentary selection in spades from both left and right, were discarded.
The reality is that having transparent criteria, with clear weightings, would have made the fix much more difficult. It would have required members of the panel to actively disregard evidence of those candidates who were not blessed by the unions.
God forbid, candidates might have asked to see their markings – as happens every day in companies and public sector organisations up and down the country following interviews – and queried how decisions were made.
In the event, it was much easier to have no criteria and remove any basis for accountability for the selection panel.
Ironic really, because any hint of a similar approach for any other job interview, other than London Labour MEP, would have been roundly condemned by the unions, and quite right too.
As a Unite guide states on selection processes (in this case for redundancy)
“As far as possible an employer should seek to establish criteria for selection which do not depend solely upon the opinion of the person making the selection but can be objectively checked against such things as disciplinary record, experience and efficiency at the job”
Just a shame these principles were ignored when it came to London Labour’s Euro-list selection.