While the nation agonises over unrest on the streets and the threat to the monarchy, Labour Party members in Oldham East and Saddleworth have today chosen their prospective parliamentary candidate, and NEC constituency members must unite to secure members' selection rights.
Whatever their policy differences they might wonder why none of them was on the shortlisting panel in the first place. Never again. This is an issue all CLPs ought to be united about. The right of members to select Labour candidates for elected office, whether for the European, British or Scottish Parliaments, London or Welsh Assemblies, or any unit of local government or parish council in the country.
That is a revolt worth fermenting. The shadow management structure that runs the Labour Party decided without consulting the full NEC that the NEC chair Norma Stephenson, vice-chair Michael Cashman and local government trusty Cllr Ann Lucas should longlist, interview and shortlist. Among the responses to my straw poll early yesterday, one constituency reps simply did not know who was on the panel. The other two were as well informed as I appear to have been and able to confirm the names of the Gang of Three. One of my NEC sources described the absence of an constituency rep from the panel as 'unfortunate'.
Well there's an understatement for all the tens of thousands of members who voted in the 2010 constituency section ballot earlier this year.
Obviously, the vast majority of Labour Party members will want to retain the Oldham East and Saddleworth seat. I wish Debbie Abrahams the new PPC a successful campaign to ensure Labour retains the seat. But I hope all our elected constituency section representatives will ensure that the lessons are learned.
Labour has increased its membership by maybe as much as a third over the past twelve months. If new members are to be retained, the Party has got to get smart about why people have signed up. If the new members are completely new to the party, then perhaps their expecations are different from those who are rejoiners. As I learned at my last branch meeting when talking about policy making from a rejoiner the last submission he had been involved in 2000 remained unacknowledged. I know his experience is typical.
So we need our elected representatives on the NEC to unite to promote members' rights - whether to select candidates for election or have a say.