Labour members calling for the party’s leadership to rethink its selection process for the GLA election next May need to be careful they don’t fall into a trap of their own making.
Senior figures across Lambeth and Southwark councils, both in the seat’s catchment area, and MPs have intervened, describing the shortlist, cherry-picked by senior figures and not via a larger vote among members, as a “stitch up”. An open letter signed by nearly 100 councillors highlights that some leading figures, working in top elected jobs, have been side-lined, including black and ethnic minority women councillors.
Whether the seat should have automatically had an all-women shortlist is another matter, but it would be a shame to fixate on who was rejected, and not praise some of those who did make the cut.
The list is diverse. And though none are Southwark or Lambeth councillors, it’s not true to say none have any connection to the borough. There is also the argument that although some existing councillors would be excellent additions, it’s always good to give newcomers a chance to stand in any election for the first time and bring in candidates from Labour’s broad base of affiliates.
Peter John et al’s calls for a more open process, and a decision made with members rather than for them and behind closed doors, is the right one. But to win that argument they need to make sure that the accusation of factionalism can’t be thrown right back at them.