What is going on? There are a number of Labour Party prospective parliamentary selections that seems to have been going on and on and on and....you get the idea...for a verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry long time. John Reid MP for Airdrie and Shotts announced his intention to stand down at the next election shortly after former Labour Leader Tony Blair got the heave-ho in 2007. The absence of a fresh candidate to seek to represent these good people north of the border was meant to have been addressed by the Labour Party's fast-track selection procedure agreed on 19 November 2009. But no. There is still a vacancy. The lapse time north of the border eclipses that in Leyton and Wanstead by some 22 months. Nevertheless Harry Cohen MP announced his intention not to seek re-election at the end of June last year. Heroic efforts by the local party to get the selection process started were mysteriously delayed by alleged irregularities cited by the Regional Office during selections for the local council elections - supervised by the err...Regional Office. According to Labour Party insiders ((as a member of the Party's National Executive Committee I (very modestly) have no illusions - I'm not one of them)) an envoy from No 10 had a meeting with a senior Head Office official with a clear message - fix it for 'you know who'. Exploratory meetings between 'you know who' and local party contacts took place. Since then nothing has been seen of 'you know who' except in the columns of scurrilous newspapers and disreputable blogs like this.
There was a sudden flurry of activity at HO in November with the NEC presented with a paper for a fast-track procedure. After amendment protecting members rights to decide whom their PPC would be, well at least so some of us naives thought, one would have thought that decisions would be raced through.
But no. What continues to titillate is why has the timetable for the Leyton and Wanstead selection still not been announced? It was not until the NEC Special Selections Panel met on 21 January to decide that L&W should be an Open selection ie. MEN can apply as well as WOMEN. While timetables were posted on 25 January for selections in two of the four seats determined as Open or All Women Shortlists..the good members of Leyton and Wanstead, not to mention the wannabee MPs are still waiting. Will ''you know who' be one of them, or has s/he taken soundings and decided not to risk embarrassment so close to home?