When the ballot papers are despatched to Labour Party members in Leyton and Wanstead they are likely to be seen to carry the fingerprints of Tom Watson MP. According to my sources he chaired the interview panel(s) conducted yesterday to reduce the longlist said by some sources to have numbered 12 (out of some 103 applicants) to a shortlist of six. Bizarrely at least one candidate was interviewed by a different panel from the rest, but for continuity's sake, I suppose it might be argued, chaired by the same Tom Watson. I can not think of a single instance in my whole life of shortlisting for a position being conducted by different panels of people. But I suppose there is a first time for anything, especially in the equal opportunities conscious Labour Party.
Tom's presence on the Labour Party National Executive Committee itself has been a bit of a mystery to me ever since he resigned from the government. Why? Because he still sits on the NEC representing....the government. Be that as it may, much more relevant to members in Leyton and Wanstead is Tom's alleged closeness to No 10 Downing Street, and his alleged association with a shadowy organisation, or is it an eMail list, called Labour First. Yesterday he sat with Cllr Ann Lucas, alleged by some to also be associated with,,,,Labour First, who sits on the NEC representing local government, and Paddy Lillis, an NEC representative from the leadership loyalist shopworkers' union USDAW. USDAW along with Community were the only trades unions to vote at Labour Party Conference 2009 against one member one vote for constituency section representatives to the National Policy Forum.
What is beyond doubt is that a shortlist produced by members in Leyton and Wanstead would not have been the same as that decided by Tom and friends yesterday.
Tom's list now goes to an all-members ballot to decide who will be Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate to campaign to retain the seat held by the disgraced incumbent, Harry Cohen MP. A strong local candidate might have helped.