Journalists from the Guardian and the Independent have rung me in the last 24 hours about the postal voting issues in prospective parliamentary selections in Calder Valley and Erith and Thamesmead.
Like lots of other people I am concerned that the Labour Party's rules are not being administered properly. The selection in Calder Valley involved 61% of members voting by post - 90 out of a total of 147 votes cast. In Erith and Thamesmead, Tribune reported last week that a third of members had applied for postal votes.
The point I made to both the Guardian and the Independent is that it appears on the surface that a shift in public policy towards postal voting had taken place inside the Labour Party, without any change in its Rules. My concerns are that our PPCs rely on voluntary help at election time. Any suggestion of manipulation of a selection is detrimental to volunteers' willingness to campaign. Members who have taken part in selections and accept that the best candidate won in an open and transparent selection may be more likely to want to go out campaign and get that candidate elected.
That is what is at issue. According to this morning's Yorkshire Post: "A spokesman for the Yorkshire and the Humber Labour Party said the Calder Valley contest had been carried out under the rules laid down by the party's National Executive Committee and Steph Booth had gained a "clear victory.""
I hope the General Secretary is urging his staff to exercise a little more caution about these matters until the astonishingly high proportion of PV votes has been examined thoroughly. This should be part of a wider inquiry into the conduct of PPC selections, which I believe would be best undertaken in the context of membership recruitment and retention.