The Labour Party's fasttrack selection process for Stoke Central has produced a shortlist reportedly of three candidates. How the chosen three candidates are received and treated by members of the local constituency labour party at a hustings due to take place on Thursday remains to be seen. I have long since lost confidence in the fasttrack selection process and those administering it. The question for the majority of my colleagues on the National Executive Committee is whether they have too and are prepared to act to challenge this latest shortlisting decision.
For those who have forgotten these are the key words from a National Executive Committee resolution agreed nem con last November:
When the General Election is called the right of members to select their candidates will remain a priority consideration for the panel.
The operative words are 'will remain a priority'. I know we merely entrust the government of the country to the Leader of the Party that won the last General Election. We depends on the words Parliament chooses to enshrine in statute to determine how we are governed, and in the event of dispute those words help guide the judiciary when forming a judgment in any case arising there from.
So the 'right of members to select their candidates' is a priority given that a General Election has not been called? Apparently not. For my part, I would readily support a resolution calling for an emergency meeting of the NEC to overturn the delegated powers of the Special Selections Panel, with a view to removing the undue influence (if any) of the Leader/deputy leader and trade union donors from remaining selections. The concern is that by their actions to date they could be seen as bringing the Labour Party into disrepute, just like the Lobbygate Three/Four/Six. The cause for concern is that s/he/they are undermining trust in our democracy and our elected political representatives. In the case of Stoke, it is alleged that a candidate preferred by an unelected member of the Labour Party leadership, to whom the elected Leader (by default) is possibly beholden, is one of three shortlisted persons.
Members in Stoke Central will no doubt be reflecting very carefully on how their rights have been compromised and asking whether they have any means of registering their concerns.