Posts Tagged ‘Parliamentary selections’

Labour’s minority problem

13/01/2015, 03:24:53 PM

by Henry Engler

Just one week after the major political parties launched their General Election campaigns, depressingly little headway has been made to cut through the cynicism of the electorate.

And voters aren’t the ones to blame. Their apathy is reflective of a much wider problem.

Seven years of austerity are taking their toll and none of the major parties have reached out far enough and wide enough to engage with real people in order to deliver their message.

And that’s before you take the ethnic minorities into account. While far from ignored, Labour has rested on its laurels in recent years and seen its traditional voter base eroded.

Bradford and Tower Hamlets should have been the wakeup call that the party needed but sadly the lessons have not been learnt and CLP’s around the UK are either being hollowed out, or failing to take advantage of the significant number of ethnic minority voters in their constituencies.

What’s worse is that this is often happening without the party noticing, especially in Labour-led authorities, or where the majority is superficially large.

Take Edmonton constituency in north London. This is a seat that has delivered large majorities for Labour. And why wouldn’t it, given its “traditional Labour” demographic. However, as recently as 1997 the seat was held by the Conservatives.

Let’s not forget that Clacton (formerly Harwich) was Labour until 2005. And Heywood & Middleton, which only remained Labour by a whisker in October’s by-election.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Handing the Falkirk report to the police is a good first step. But more is needed.

05/07/2013, 01:27:50 PM

by Atul Hatwal

So news breaks this lunchtime that the party is handing the report into Falkirk West to the police. Good.

On Wednesday this week, Uncut was first with the news that the Fraud Act had potentially been breached. Yesterday, we broke the news that the party was refusing to commit to handing over evidence of any illegality to the police and relevant authorities.

In the post yesterday, we called for the party ‘s legal advisers to look at the report and asses whether any evidence of law-breaking was uncovered during the course of the NEC inquiry. This morning the Labour party did exactly that and as expected has found it extremely likely that the law has been breached.

The party is making the right moves to clean up this mess. But there is unfinished business. Handing the report to the police will address the potential breach of the Fraud Act.

However, the Data Protection Act has also very likely been breached and this is within the remit of the Information Commissioner rather than the police.

The party inquiry will have found evidence of this breach, not least with the complaints of Unite members who found that they had been signed-up to the Labour party without their knowledge.

To complete the cleansing, the party should handover this is evidence of law-breaking to the Information Commissioner and ask him to investigate.

Only then will the party truly begin to move on from the disaster in Falkirk West.

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

New Falkirk twist: Now Labour refuse to commit to pass evidence of law-breaking to the police

04/07/2013, 07:00:33 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Another day, another Falkirk West farrago. Labour has now managed to tie itself in knots over what to do with evidence of illegal activities, uncovered as a result of the party’s inquiries.

The current position is that Labour will not commit to handing over any evidence of suspected law-breaking to the police or relevant authorities.

To recap, this sorry affair was kicked off when local Unite members complained to the party about being recruited into Labour without their knowledge.

In late May, the Sunday Herald carried details of one of the letters of complaint, originally sent in March, that ultimately triggered the NEC inquiry,

“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… I have concerns as to the way Unite in Falkirk are recruiting party members.”

On this basis, two laws appear to have been broken – the 1998 Data Protection Act and the 2006 Fraud Act.

Just over a month ago Uncut reported that angry members in Falkirk West were considering reporting Unite to the Information Commissioner because of a breach of their data protection rights.

Under the terms of the Act, each individual must have agreed before their personal details are passed to a different organisation.

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

Then, yesterday Uncut reported on the likelihood of a breach of the Fraud Act. Whoever completed the bogus applications and validated them would have contravened section 2 of the Act under the terms of “false misrepresentation”

Submitting completed forms to the Labour party, without the new members’ consent, would have constituted false misrepresentation.

Two laws, two breaches. One to do with peoples’ rights over their personal information, the other with the act of someone deliberately falsifying membership forms.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Party veteran wins nomination for home seat in Chester

08/06/2013, 11:40:55 AM

Chris Matheson was last night selected as Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for the City of Chester constituency.

A veteran of the North West party board, Matheson works for Unite the union as an industrial officer and lives in the constituency. He based his campaign on combining “local roots and national experience.”

He beat development economist Peter D’Souza into second place, with local councillor Sam Dixon coming third. Matheson won on the third ballot.

In a leaflet distributed in the final few days of campaigning, Matheson outlined his vision of ‘Chester 2020’, promising if elected to galvanise businesses and the local university behind a drive for to improve local skills and bring in new investment.

Although Chester is usually regarded as one of the most affluent boroughs in the North West, the Campaign to End Child Poverty (a collection of anti-poverty groups) found that 17% of children in the City of Chester constituency are currently living in poverty.

Also, the Chester and Ellesmere Port foodbank, set up last November, has recently seen the number of people it helps treble.

Sitting Conservative MP Stephen Moseley has a majority of 2,583.

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Short queue of applicants looking to take on Clegg

06/06/2013, 01:00:09 PM

Just twelve hopefuls applied to stand against Nick Clegg at the 2015 general election as Labour’s parliamentary candidate in Sheffield Hallam.

Party officials have whittled this down to a shortlist of four comprising of Mark Gill, Mark Russell, Oliver Coppard and Martin Mayer. All have local roots.

Gill is a pollster and a former Head of Political Research at Ipsos MORI.

Russell is chief executive of the Church Army charity which is based in Sheffield.

Coppard is a former partnership manager for Barnsley Council and headed an innovative Olympics partnership between Barnsley and Newham.

Meanwhile Martin Mayer is a Unite branch secretary and a working bus driver from Sheffield. He is backed by shadow cabinet office minister Jon Trickett and Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts.

The hustings takes place on June 24.

Clegg has a 15,284 majority, although the seat includes a high number of public sector managers and students from the city’s two universities and three teaching hospitals. In fact, it is said the Hallam constituency has the highest number of people with a PhD degree in the country.

What of Clegg, is he beatable? The backlash from the student fees debacle will still do him harm, as will the impact of local spending cuts and public sector job losses.

However a recent by-election in the Fulwood ward in the heart of the constituency actually saw the Lib Dems increase their majority, with a four per cent swing away from Labour. They have a formidable local campaigning organisation with most of their city councillors clustered in the constituency.

Worth remembering too that a third of families here live in detached houses, with nearly a fifth of these having five or more bedrooms (the national average is less than 5%).

This is not, it is fair to say, the Sheffield of The Full Monty.

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

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.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

All women shortlists are an insider’s charter

02/03/2012, 01:30:22 PM

by Ben Cobley

“White people love playing ‘divide & rule’ We should not play their game”, these words, tweeted by Diane Abbott, ignited a storm of accusations and denials of racism and opened a window into the complexities of identity politics.

While it is doubtful that many white people were properly offended by the tweet, it does expose Abbott’s assumption that black and white people should be divided, and that they have different (and opposing) interests.

The “divide and rule” agenda that Abbott talked about in fact applies more to her in this instance. She was clearly trying to draw a racial drawbridge between black and white people.

This is the sort of political philosophy that George W. Bush espoused when he said, “You are either with us or against us”; one group’s identity is defined opposite to the other – and if you do not share the dictates of your own group’s “leaders”, then you are letting your side down. Bim Adewunmi herself made a strong argument about this.

As it is highly unlikely Diane Abbott is a racist, how did she get into such a tangle?

Part of the answer surely lies in the way that certain curious, arcane attitudes are still widespread in liberal-left circles.

Abbott herself responded to the tweeting controversy by saying that she was talking about the politics of colonialism. But she clearly was not discussing history in her tweet, and that is where the colonialist worldview belongs – and where the anti-colonialist mentality will have to find a home sooner or later. It is hopelessly outdated in a country where the evidence of integration is all around us, not least in the many children and young adults of mixed race.

The unthinking identity politics of the liberal-left maintains and extends this anti-colonialist narrative though, by simplistically inverting the racist, sexist and ruling class ideologies of past times.

So it is that dark skin is favoured over light, female over male, while the possession of assets and money is deemed as something to be ashamed of.

This attitude is woven into Labour Party practices and procedures, especially when it comes to candidate selection.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Parliamentary selections: democracy a la Monty Python

03/01/2011, 12:30:35 PM

by Rob Marchant

The last few days have seen two major Labour news stories. First, the clash between the pro and anti camps for the additional vote (AV) referendum. Second, the controversy over supposed changes to Labour’s funding and voting model with respect to trade unions. What is not, perhaps, immediately obvious is that the two are connected.

It is surprising that people in the Labour party can get so exercised over AV. There are so many other policy areas, which the public deeply cares about, on which we should be staking out our position, in order to engage them. What is more difficult to understand is not that people get worked up about AV, but how inconsistent our thinking is.

We are ready, and rightly, to defend Parliamentary democracy to the death. With the AV/PR debate, many of us take it to another level. We agonise over how we can make it adequately representative and fair. Rum, given that, when applied to our own internal party elections, these words fail to ring true.

Take parliamentary selections, for example. Are they representative and fair? Our process is Byzantine to start with (p76-86 here if you are interested). But, in addition, there are the distorting “special cases” which have multiplied over the years. If you are from an ethnic minority, you are a special case and can leapfrog some parts of the process. A woman? Special case. Disabled, or from a manual or clerical background? Special case, at least in theory. On a union’s national Parliamentary list? Special case. Backed by a local affiliate? Special case. (more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon