Posts Tagged ‘fixing’

Labour’s internal democracy is rotten

19/05/2017, 02:28:56 PM

by Kevin Meagher 

You need to cast your mind back quite a bit to remember Liz Davies and the injustice she received at the hands of the Labour party.

She was, all too briefly, the Labour parliamentary candidate for Leeds North East ahead of the 1997 general election. A councillor in Islington, Davies had been properly selected by members for the marginal seat that, in due course, was to fall to Labour.

However, she was accused of disrupting meetings of Islington Council by three other Labour councillors. Their highly-disputed version of events was swallowed wholesale by the National Executive Committee and her candidacy was cancelled.

Handily, she was also barrister and later sued her accusers, who included James Purnell, an adviser to Tony Blair at the time and later and MP himself and Cabinet Minister.

The matter was settled out of court, with the three accused forced to make a donation to the election funds of local Labour MPs (benefitting Jeremy Corbyn).

Why this trip down memory lane?

I was reminded of this injustice after last week’s imposition of Dan Carden, an aide to Unite’s General Secretary, Len McCluskey, as the Labour candidate for Liverpool Walton – the safest Labour seat in the country – vacated by Steve Rotheram, the newly-elected metro mayor for the Liverpool City Region.

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Corbyn must be beaten in a leadership contest. MPs can’t exclude him from the ballot

27/06/2016, 06:13:34 PM

by Atul Hatwal

The first stage of the PLP rebellion has been executed well. The scale and pace of the resignations have demonstrated the level of breach between the leader and his parliamentary troops.

Now comes the tricky bit.

Once the motion of no confidence in the leader has been passed – current predictions suggest 80%+ PLP backing – the MPs are primed to attempt something disastrous: to keep Jeremy Corbyn off the ballot.

The mechanic will be MP nominations. Once the race is on, contenders need the backing of 35 MPs, a threshold Jeremy Corbyn could not hope to cross.

However, the rules are ambiguous as to whether he, as the incumbent, would need any nominations. Jolyon Maugham QC looked at the detail and, while no fan of Corbyn, concluded that he would be on the ballot automatically as leader. Legal firm, Doughty Street Chambers have come to the same view.

Apparently there is some contradictory advice with Iain McNicol, Labour party general secretary, but regardless of the legal he-said-she-saids, MPs should abandon this plan. It’s utterly mad.

Attempting a fix, so that the name Jeremy Corbyn isn’t an option on members’ ballots, is self-harming for two reasons.

First, the party in the country will tear itself apart.

Many MPs seem to have the insouciant attitude that the sole result will be several thousand Corbynistas leaving the party in a huff.

Wrong.

There will be full blown civil war across every level of the party.

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Just not good enough – a story of Labour selection

06/03/2015, 03:49:55 PM

by Paul Wheeler

I had an interesting conversation with a well connected Labour councillor recently. We both had an interest in a recent Parliamentary selection contest.

His preferred candidate won and it was clear why. He had the better website, he had been full time contacting members for months, he was bright, articulate and union sponsored. In fact he was so well organised he even got his supporting union to provide a breakfast to ensure his supporters turned up for the early morning selection meeting. As my new friend put it cruelly but accurately my preferred candidate ‘just wasn’t good enough’

And he was right. He ran a slip shod campaign with a pretty poor website and relied on old contacts and promises. All he had going for him was that he was born and bred in the constituency and as a leading councillor had helped turned the town around when everyone else had written it off.  Critically for a lot of new members to the area he hadn’t been to university and was therefore not ‘quite up to the job’ of being an MP.

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Complaints over shortlist in Salford

14/07/2014, 04:48:05 PM

The race to succeed Hazel Blears as the Labour candidate for Salford and Eccles has run into controversy following last weekend’s shortlisting meeting.

Complaints have been made to the party’s North West regional office after the unusual decision was made to shortlist just two candidates, despite other applicants having multiple branch nominations.

Yet, unsuccessful candidates have been told by local officials there is no appeals procedure and no feedback has been given about the decision to proceed with such a small shortlist.

Sarah Brookes, a senior manager for Manchester Airport Group, who was born and actually lives in the seat, had four branch nominations. This would normally ensure a place on the final shortlist.

Meanwhile Sara Hyde, who works as a mentor for young women in the prison system, received two branch nominations.

Under Labour’s internal system of preferential voting, it is usual that at least three candidates are shortlisted for a parliamentary selection.

Instead, members now face a choice at next month’s hustings meeting of either Cheshire solicitor Rebecca Long-Bailey or Salford City Councillor Sue Pugh, chair of the party’s North West regional board and partner of NEC member Peter Wheeler.

At the 2010 General Election, Hazel Blears had a majority of 5,725.

Update: 10:05 15/07/14

Sophie Taylor has also been shortlisted. However we understand she only had a single nomination, raising questions about how Brookes and Hyde could possibly be left off the shortlist.

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Falkirk: an epilogue

19/02/2014, 07:23:43 PM

by Rob Marchant

Two weeks ago, in all of the excitement of Ed Miliband’s surprisingly successful bid to reform Labour party power structures, a parallel development was almost buried in the bigger story, apart from at the Guardian, which broke it.

The night before the NEC was due to ponder the matter, the full report which Ed Miliband had steadfastly refused to publish was, finally, mysteriously leaked. Whether it was the party, or Unite, or the Guardian itself, or even the Tories ineptly trying to cause trouble, we may never know.

The Labour party has made – caveats notwithstanding – big progress in dealing with the root cause, and there is already a new candidate for Falkirk. The story is over.

But before we lay its ghost to rest, and after the extraordinary impact it has had on the course of Labour Party history, it behoves us to spend a little time understanding exactly what did happen.

Leafing through the 20-page report, a few things stand out.

There seems little doubt that recruitment was carried out in contravention of party rules; or that it was later generally agreed to pretend that things were otherwise.

Any recruitment purely for the purposes of manipulating a selection is against the rules but, since intent is evidently difficult to establish, there exist a number of controls (such as signatures, rules prohibiting bulk payments, application acceptance criteria and freeze dates) to ensure that such recruitment is minimised, if not wholly eliminated. These calls were all jumped in various ways: single cheques for multiple applications, backdating, signing on others’ behalf and so on. Police found insufficient evidence to classify these practices as illegal, but that is hardly the point; internal selections are hardly processes with much legal standing anyway.

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Why I spoiled my Labour Euro-selections ballot paper

06/06/2013, 07:00:27 AM

by Ben Cobley

Electoral Reform Services will have received my ballot paper by now.

I had thought of writing rude messages on it, or tearing it into small pieces and dropping them into the envelope as a mark of my disdain, but on the balance I plumped for a classic piece of English fudge/moderation: a big X scrawled across the page and a little message offering my unsolicited opinion on the Labour party’s approach to democracy.

This is the first time I have ever treated a ballot paper in such a way. I used to approach them with a form of reverence, taking voting as a privilege and a pleasure.

Then I joined the Labour party.

These latest selections for European Parliament candidates are just the latest example of an approach to democracy within Labour that Erich Honecker would have recognised and admired (and which I like to call institutionalised fixing”.

Let’s put aside the ceaseless cascade of emails that have been filling members’ inboxes with blandities, platitudes and waffle (though any more talk of “campaigning”, “a fairer Europe” or “Labour values” and I might run for the hills).

Instead, let’s talk about choice.

As a Londoner, I am faced with no choice in whether I wish to re-select Mary Honeyball and Claude Moraes, despite them having a track record for which they can be held accountable. They will automatically come top of the ballot.

Then I am given a clutch of six other candidates whose views seem to be almost interchangeable (unless you can see beyond the double-speak which hides their more interesting and contentious views).

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Revealed: Unite about to be investigated by the information commissioner for Falkirk fix

29/05/2013, 07:00:31 AM

by Atul Hatwal

This week, the Labour party report into irregularities in the selection process for Falkirk West’s prospective parliamentary candidate, will be published. The selection procedure was suspended two weeks ago following allegations that Unite was fixing the contest in favour of its candidate – Karie Murphy.

The party had hoped to draw a line under the affair with the publication of the report. But, regardless of the findings of the inquiry, the row is likely to rumble on with the government’s privacy watchdog, the information commissioner, set to be called in.

The suspension of the selection was prompted by two main charges: that Unite members were signed-up for Labour party membership, with their subscription paid, without being told; and Unite and Murphy had privileged access to the local Labour party membership list.

Last week in the Herald, details of a letter of complaint sent to the Scottish party emerged. In it, a Unite member, living in Falkirk West wrote,

“Myself and two family members have been enrolled by Unite…I or my family did not fill in or sign any forms and wish to know what information the party holds about my family.”

Further allegations have been made that Karie Murphy and Unite have used the Falkirk West membership list to contact CLP members without members’ permission on at least two occasions.

If either of these claims is found to be true, Unite will have significantly breached the Data Protection Act.

Under the terms of the Act, each individual must have agreed before their personal details are passed to a different organisation. The law could not be clearer: point 1 of schedule 2 of the Act, which governs the conditions for personal data being used or “processed” by an organisation, states

“The data subject has given his consent to the processing”

At the point where Unite members’ personal details were registered with the Labour party, without their consent being first granted, the law would have been broken.

At the point where Falkirk West Labour party members had their details passed to Unite, without their prior consent, the law would, once again, have been broken.

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Confusion reigns over London Labour Euro-list selection as candidates dispute senior official’s story

19/04/2013, 10:59:31 AM

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 meetingAs 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.

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Labour’s new way of selecting parliamentary candidates makes a mockery of calls for more working class MPs

08/02/2013, 07:00:08 AM

by Peter Watt

Class is back on the agenda.  Bashing the posh “Eton” Tories has become popular again for many in Labour’s ranks.  Personally I think the “posh” attacks are pretty appalling.   But the Tories don’t really help themselves and I guess you could argue that they invited it with the “we’re all in it together” nonsense.  But it’s a long time since the Labour party was stuffed full of working class members or representatives.

Nope, Labour may not have quite the public school quotient of the Tories but our ranks are still drawn from a narrow pool.  We are pretty much wholly middle class and there are an awful lot of teachers and lawyers at most party meetings!  The same is true of our MP’s except that there are also a fair old number of political professionals from the ranks of trade unions and political advisors.

The party has though made some real strides over recent years in increasing the numbers of women.  There’s a way to go, but the progress is clearly good news.  And you’d think that the recent signals that the party was looking to diversify its ranks in Westminster further, by recruiting more working class MPs for instance, would be the start of further progress.  But I fear that it is in fact just hollow words that will come to nothing.

Those who really know the Labour party know that real power is in the hands of those who control the organisation.  And that means that you need to understand the rules and procedures.  Better still, mould them to your own ends.

It is why the Organisation Sub-Committee (Org Sub) of the NEC is the committee that every member of the NEC wants to be on.  And it’s why the Trade Unions fight so hard to make sure that they have plenty of reps on it and generally chair it.  You see, the Org Sub controls selections, discipline, the rule book and internal elections.  And the reality is, that it is the wording of the rules and regulations for the selection of Parliamentary candidates, approved by the Org Sub that determines whether fine words are translated into reality.

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The Rotherham selection is a case study in how not to manage a party

14/11/2012, 05:12:03 PM

by Kevin Meagher

The bad karma emanating from Denis MacShane’s resignation appears to have seeped into the process to select his successor, if last night’s shambles is anything to go by.

Reports that half the membership in Rotherham walked out of the selection meeting in protest over the shortlist of just two candidates they were presented with must qualify as the worst-ever start to a parliamentary by-election campaign.

In its defence, the party needed to act quickly if it was to move the writ to include Rotherham in the brace of by-elections in Croydon and Middlesbrough already scheduled to take place on November 29.

It made sense to do so. The reputation of politics is low enough without MPs being found to have “knowingly submitting 19 false invoices” by the House of Commons’ standards and privileges committee as MacShane was (oddly enough, the committee is chaired by MacShane’s neighbouring MP, Kevin Barron).

But the other festering issue in Rotherham is child abuse, particularly the lamentable, grotesque failure of the authorities in the town to stamp out the grooming of vulnerable young white girls by gangs of predominantly Pakistani men.

So the party was left with a dilemma. Move quickly, and a short campaign could prevent a head of steam building up, either about MacShane or child abuse. So far, so smart.

But then it started to unravel. Rather than allowing the local party to influence the selection shortlist a decision was taken to drop-in a “clean skin” candidate. Someone from outside the usual political haunts who wouldn’t draw quite so much heat from a jaundiced electorate, sick of all politicians.

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