RUMOURS are growing of a national Labour Party ‘stitch-up’ to parachute in general election candidates in Coventry favourable to leader Jeremy Corbyn.
It has incensed local candidates hoping to replace retiring stalwart MPs Geoffrey Robinson and Jim Robinson at the next general election – thought to be imminent amid Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal deadline of October 31.
Sources have told the Coventry Observer the two constituency Labour parties involved – Coventry North West and Coventry South respectively – are to host emergency meetings to agree a position calling on the NEC to ensure a properly local and democratic candidate-selection process.
Both seats are seen as Labour strongholds. Whoever is selected as the Labour candidate in each would be strongly fancied to become the MP – despite Brexit electoral volatility.
Because a snap election is expected, the national Labour party controlled by the Corbyn leadership via the National Executive Committee (NEC) has taken over responsibility from local constituencies for producing longlists of candidates for constituencies where MPs are retiring.
Various media briefings nationally have led to rumours and speculative reports that local candidates are being excluded – although it is shrouded in secrecy.
Fears are emerging that Coventry councillors – who have long had Parliamentary ambitions – have been left off the longlists for the Coventry seats, and therefore blocked from becoming MPs.
They include Coventry councillors Jayne Innes and Ed Ruane – who has long worked for Mr Robinson in his constituency office.
Both are hoping to become the Labour party candidate for Coventry North West – where attempts in 2015 to parachute-in Tony Blair’s son Euan Blair were resisted by the local Labour party.
Individual constituency parties are expected to still be able to select their own candidate from a shortlist. But one fear is that the ‘stitch-up’ could involve the effective imposition of national candidates and relatively inexperienced local candidates.
In the worst case scenario, local party activists we have spoken with, who want to remain anonymous, fear the NEC could impose a candidate and suspend the local constituency party.
The concern is that party rules are being manipulated to result in known pro-Corbyn loyalist MPs in constituencies.
It follows internal wrangling in the Westminster Labour Party between the left-wing loyal to Mr Corbyn and ant-Corbyn centrists.