Our Newham correspondent makes some observations on the Councillor Candidate Selections in the east London borough
With East Ham and West Ham CLPs in special measures, all 66 candidates for the local elections to Newham Council were imposed by panels constituted by the London Region Labour Party.
The process of selecting candidates was very much like that of a job interview. Initially, a little over 200 new applicants in addition to sitting councillors applied for selection and this number was reduced to a longlist of some 150 people who were interviewed.
Many of the applicants against whom complaints had been made – and this was a large number – were questioned about them during their interviews. Failure to get selected could therefore have been due to what the panellists regarded as unsatisfactory responses to complaints as well as to a generally poor interview. In the case of sitting councillors, the Whip’s report was, of course, also taken into account.
The selection process resulted in the number of left-wingers on the candidates’ list remaining approximately the same as that of the sitting councillors – that is around 8 out of 66. Two left-wingers (one of whom was not considered to be authentic by other left councillors) were not appointed and one stepped down voluntarily. Of the candidates adopted, three new ones are considered to be on the left.
The fate of the left in the Newham candidate selections needs to be seen in the light of the split in the left of the Labour Party in the borough. About three years ago a kind of Left Opposition to Newham Council coalesced. Within this group were sincere socialists genuinely on the left. But there were also some opportunists who adopted socialism as a flag of convenience to further their personal advancement, with little regard to political principle.
Several months ago, a few leading members of this opposition group, following the suspension from the Labour Party of one of their number, left the Party to form Newham Socialist Labour, which they qualified as a shadow CLP.
Five members of this group are now standing in the elections as independent candidates. Of the members of the opposition group who remained in the Party and applied for selection as Labour candidates – about ten in number – all were unsuccessful and it remains to be seen what they will do during the election campaign.
Labour Hub would be interested to know how Labour’s selection process was run in your borough – get in touch!
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