The deadline for applications for the last remaining constituency in London without a prospective parliamentary candidate (as of today) Leyton and Wanstead passed at midnight Monday 8 February. No official announcement has been made about who the three members of the National Executive Committee's special selections panel (SSP) will be. They will interview and shortlist on Thursday 11 February.
What I can tell you is that Ann Black, chair of the NEC and a CLP representative will not be one of the three. What I can't tell you is why not.
Of particular interest still are:
1. the total number of applicants
2. the method of reducing many applications to a managable longlist and by whom
3. the membership of the shortlisting panel.
4. the method(s) proposed to reduce the longlist to a shortlist for an all-member postal ballot other than interview
Needless to say, my suggestions for offering local members maximum involvement in those processes set out here have been studiously ignored, an initial offer from the London Regional Director, Ken Clark to CLP chair, Greg Eglin to ensure the CLP could observe the interviewing and shortlisting had to withdrawn due to an extraordinarily short-sighted decision by the SSP to EXCLUDE CLP observers. Among those voting against was CLP representative Ellie Reeves.
UPDATE 2325: London Region Director Ken Clark rang me earlier this evening to ask for a correction concerning the offer to ensure the CLP could observe the interviewing and shortlisting to which I have agreed. Ken said tonight no such offer was made.
All I can say is that during the NEC meeting on 26 January I received the following message from a L&W contact who wrote:
Greg has confirmed Regions commitment to this and advised that he intends to write
The NEC decision was apparently in the light of the bruising experience of allowing the then CLP chair from Norwich North to witness the star-chamber proceedings against former Labour MP Dr Ian Gibson. After which it was alleged that an unauthorised account was given by the former chair. The underlying problem in that case, tragically, is that to this day no one knows what the charge was against the hapless Ian Gibson. Such miscarriages of justice are not easily forgotten by members who have seen what few rights they have in the Labour Party stripped away.
If Labour Party NEC members and staff cannot agree a coherent message about what was decided in a meeting, one has to ask what are the chances of formulating coherent and convincing messages to the electorate to vote Labour in the forthcoming General Election?
Some Leyton and Wanstead members and branches have already submitted suggestions as to whom they would like to see on the shortlist. Others have decided to wait and see before commenting.
What is certain is that this remains a selection in the spotlight.