Selections: Top-Down Stitch-Ups Cause Mounting Anger

Ealing Cllr Lewis Cox, who was excluded from the Ealing North longlist, gives his view of how the NEC is handling the process:

I thought I’d take a couple of days before responding to what has happened in Ealing North. As I get older I’m starting to learn not to say the the first thing that comes into my head as I’m guaranteed to offend someone.

Of course I’m disappointed with the outcome, and not just because I wasn’t long listed. I’m disappointed because we’ve all fought so hard over the past four years for this ‘new kind of politics’ and all we’ve got in return is the same old underhand, anti-democratic bullshit.

I’m disappointed because the grassroots led democracy we were promised has failed to materialise. Empowering members and letting us lead the movement from the bottom up sounded great. Many of us swallowed the pill but I’m starting to believe we were sold a lie.

Our left dominated NEC has shown it’s no better than a right wing dominated NEC. There is no transparency and no accountability. Ealing North members and potential candidates have been treated with contempt, our hard work taken for granted and our voices suppressed.

I initially decided I’d go quietly, bow out of the process gracefully and leave it at that, but as the days have passed the angrier I have become. Like I said before my main feelings of disappointment aren’t as a result of my personal circumstances but the feeling we’ve all been played.

It’s clear the process has been stitched up for one particular candidate. If you would have asked me a few days ago what my feelings were about his succeeding Pound, I would have said I was happy. I like the guy, he’s from Ealing originally and he’s LGBT+ and taking into account Stephen Pounds questionable voting record on LGBT+ rights then having an openly gay man represent us in Ealing North was something I would have been delighted with. But not now.

I will struggle to support him after all this. All of us who seek positions within the party should be able and willing to fight for them. We’re democrats or we are not and there’s no room for ‘top down democracy’. As far as I can see anyone who stood a chance of challenging the preferred candidate at a hustings were excluded from the process. Seats being carved up by union bureaucrats and NEC members is the politics of yesterday but is very much alive today.

The issues we’re facing in Ealing North are happening in CLP’s across the country. Local candidates in Enfield, Bassetlaw & Luton have allegedly been excluded to make room for candidates from Camden & Islington.

The next time someone in Rotherham tells me that the Labour Party is the party of the Islington elite I’ll have to look the other way.

It’s not all bad though. This process has been a massive learning curve for me. I’ve learnt just how fragile this left project is and how when push comes to shove the left with play dirty just as easily as the right.

I’ve had support from so many people including key members who have been involved in the Corbyn project since day one. I was even invited to Westminster a few weeks ago to meet some of JC’s team but I don’t think I’m allowed to say what we discussed.

Locally I couldn’t have asked for more support, especially from the wonderful members of Hobbayne branch. I’ve been fortunate to receive endorsements from the majority of left Ealing councillors including Anna, Ray, Linda, Carlo, Jaskiran and Lauren and several prominent left MP’s.

I know many of you are feeling frustrated and disillusioned at the minute and you probably feel like giving up. But we can’t, without us there is no alternative, without us The Labour Party will revert to being the least-worst option at the ballot paper. We have to keep fighting for the ‘new kind of politics’ we were promised in 2015 and for those radical, transformative policies that will genuinely change peoples lives forever.

I’m still committed to the Corbyn project even if I’m no longer convinced it’s committed to working class people like me.