by Atul Hatwal
The starting pistol for the election has been fired but when it comes to candidate selection, Labour has been left on the blocks.
According to Labour’s selection timetable, Prospective Parliamentary Candidates in seats where the MP has stood down, are being chosen by the NEC between Sunday 23rd April and Friday 28th April and in seats without Labour MPs, between Sunday April 30th and Tuesday May 2nd. Sitting MPs have been automatically reselected.
Think about those dates for a moment.
Six days to pick 14 candidates in seats Labour already holds where the MP is retiring, three days to pick 416 candidates, out of which just under 100 are the key seats needed to win a majority.
Actions speak louder than words and the focus on seats where MPs are standing down tells us two things.
First, the party has written-off anything not already held.
Candidates in seats needed to form a Labour government are likely to be two weeks behind their incumbent Tory opponents, at the stage they are confirmed after the May bank holiday.
Labour officials suggest that based on past election experience, sitting Tory MPs will be on their third or fourth leaflet to voters by the time Labour has candidates in place.
Given the snap nature of the election, where the sole opportunity to introduce the Labour candidate to electors is the eight week window starting from Theresa May’s announcement, this is a major handicap.
There are doubts whether Labour’s candidates will even be able to make the first of the two free election mailings – that’s how late our selection process runs.