The fiasco over London Labour’s Euro-list selection descended into chaos this week with candidates querying a senior official’s version of events.
On Monday, Uncut ran a piece on the grassroots revolt in London over the selection process for Labour’s European election candidates. In the article, Joy Johnson was identified as one of the key officials on the London selection panel.
She contacted Uncut to complain that her position in the process had been misrepresented. To be absolutely clear on her role in the overall selection procedure we put a question to her:
“Did you discuss the selection criteria, process or any prospective candidates with any of the other members of the panel?”
Her response was posted in the comments to the piece, “You asked did I discuss the short list the answer is NO.”
It seemed an oddly specific response. The question didn’t even mention short lists and was much broader in it’s ambit.
Subsequently, over the course of this week, Uncut has been contacted by several candidates interviewed to get onto Labour’s European short list, perplexed at Joy’s response.
Each of the candidates Uncut has spoken to has been clear: Joy Johnson did attend their short listing meeting and took an active part in the interviews.
Speaking to Labour’s London candidates, it has emerged that the party decided its short list of European candidates at two meetings before Easter on Saturday 23rd March and Sunday 24th March. The title of the mail sent out by head office to candidates was very clear: “European Parliament selections Short Listing Interview.”
Last night, we contacted Joy Johnson with this information and her stance appears to have evolved.
“There was a meeting to decide on candidates who were to go forward for interview. I wasn’t at that meeting. I didn’t discuss the list that went forward for interviews. As for the weekend you mentioned…I was at that meeting…As part of the interview process there were discussions to get to the final list that would then go out to party members” (emphasis added)
The new position is that Joy Johnson did attend short listing meetings, she did interview candidates and then did discuss with her colleagues on the panel which candidates would be on Labour’s European short list .
Confused? Many are.
It seems that when faced with the initial question from Uncut, rather than simply give a full answer, Joy Johnson opted to parse. But she got confused between the long listing (sifting candidates before interview) and short listing (interviewing candidates to make Labour’s short list of European candidates).
For someone who was Ken Livingstone’s former director of communications, it’s an astonishing way to deal with the media.