RETIRING Coventry MP Geoffrey Robinson has joined protests against an alleged national Labour Party ‘stitch-up’ to parachute in general election candidates into the city – ousting local candidates to become the next MPs.
It comes as the Coventry North West Labour Party staged an emergency meeting last night, to counter “undemocratic” moves by Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC).
Unconfirmed rumours are that local hopefuls to become the Labour candidate for the next general election in Coventry North West and Coventry South – to replace the retiring Mr Robinson and Mr Cunningham respectively – have failed to make the longlists drawn up by the NEC. as we reported yesterday.
They include Coventry city councillors Jayne Innes and Ed Ruane in Coventry North West, and Coun Jim O’Boyle in Coventry South.
With a general election expected any time after October 31 – Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal deadline – the NEC has taken over responsibility for the longlists from local constituency parties, as would happen for by-elections or snap elections. It is also thought the NEC will pay a role in selecting shortlists.
Would-be local candidates have this week been seeking clarity over names on the longlists amid growing reports and rumours – but it remains shrouded in secrecy.
Mr Robinson has written a “formal complaint letter” to Jennie Formby, general secretary of the Labour Party, and Andi Fox, chair of the NEC West Midlands Labour.
It reads: “I am writing to submit a formal complaint, concerning the shambolic and underhand nature of the Labour Party selection process which has been conducted by the NEC, in both Coventry North West and Coventry South.
“I have been contacted by several local party members from across Coventry who are angered and dismayed by the NEC actions.
“I plead with you to step in, halt this undemocratic process and investigate for the good of the Labour Party in Coventry.
“I fear that if the NEC continue to proceed in this fashion, it would do untold and irreputable damage to the trust and relationships within the local party for the forseeable future.
“Labour’s Brexit slogan is ‘Labour trusts the people to decide.’ Yet Labour doesn’t even trust the members to decide on choosing our future Parliamentary candidates for Coventry North West and Coventry South through an open, fair and democratic process.
“The suspension of the ordinary selection process coupled with this decision feels more reminiscent of the machine politics of days gone by.
“Coventry North West CLP have called for an emergency meeting.
“We need a democratic selection not NEC stitch-ups.”
Coventry North West’s emergency meeting last meet agreed to write similar objections to the party leadership.
Some critics believe the moves may be designed to favour loyalists of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
But the pro-Corbyn Coventry Momentum wing of the Labour Party tweeted: “Local candidates in Coventry need to be selected by local members.
“We do not want a list of candidates imposed on us, this is not what democracy looks like. This process needs immediate review. We are supposed to be a democratic party.”