By Calvin Tucker
I am disappointed not to have been longlisted for the Enfield North parliamentary seat. I would like to thank the three national trade unions who endorsed me: ASLEF, NUM, and BFAWU, and the local members who supported my campaign.
My dad once told me that the secret to being a successful politician was to make the weakest possible statement at all times. He’s no doubt right, but still, I’d rather be a signpost than a weather-vane.
At the time of writing, the names on the longlist have not yet been published. But what is clear is that the NEC, which drew up the longlist after having taken over the process from the locally-elected selection panel, has excluded all local left candidates who live in the borough, along with all local candidates who opposed the malpractice in last year’s Council selections.
The explanation provided by the NEC – that the longlist criteria was based purely on merit – is difficult to square with the track records of the local candidates.
The local candidates include those with political, campaigning, and media experience at local, national, and international level. Local candidates also had ward nominations and union endorsements.
One of the candidates not deemed worthy of an interview was the ‘moderate’ former leader of the Council who took the party to three successive election wins and has worked across the ideological spectrum to promote clean politics in Enfield.
Clearly experienced and credible, and with name recognition on the doorstep, he would be well-placed to hold the seat for Labour. My words are not intended as a personal endorsement but merely to demonstrate that if merit was really the criteria for deciding the longlist, his name would be on it.
Party members have concluded, with some justification, that popular local candidates who are left or who stand for clean politics are being excluded from the ballot paper to stitch up the selection.
Worse still, it is rumoured that the seat is to be gifted to someone on the right of the party; either a local ally of disgraced Council leader Nesil Caliskan or an external union official.
No wonder then that party members are up in arms. What should have been an example of a local democratic process has instead turned into a toxic farce that has left many wondering how much has really changed since the days of the Blair era.
One angry member commented on social media: “Disgraceful. It’s utterly unacceptable. They can’t impose a candidate on us…”
It’s hard to imagine a worse start to an election campaign.
This self-inflicted crisis was brought about by not listening to local members and forgetting that without democracy, the members will drop out and the party will drift back to the right.
I hope the NEC take note and work with the CLP to restore trust and confidence in the selection process.