3rd Jul, 2022

Labour breaking rules in Coventry North West MP selection claims lawyer and ex-minister Mike O'Brien

Les Reid 28th Oct, 2019 Updated: 28th Oct, 2019

FORMER Labour cabinet member and barrister Mike O’Brien claims Labour has broken its own rules in the controversial selection process for a general election candidate for Coventry North West – amid a ‘stitch up’ row.

And another former Labour MP, Lynda Waltho, also took to Twitter to report rumours of “intimidation” of local constituency Labour party officers in Coventry North West and Coventry South, with threats of “suspensions”.

Local party members have been up in arms that experienced Coventry councillors who applied had been left off longlists drawn up by national officials under emergency party rules.

National and regional party officials also had a hand in producing shortlists of two for each seat. Coventry North West officials withdrew from the shortlisting process in protest, claiming local democracy was being further hijacked.

They had also warned of a legal challenge before, as we revealed on Saturday, the shortlist of two was produced, comprising London pharmacist Taiwo Owatemi and local postal workers’ Communication Workers Union (CWU) official Des Arthur.

Despite having one local candidate, we understand there is ongoing division in the Coventry North West Constituency Labour party (CLP) and some fear it could now be suspended – potentially leaving regional or national offials at the National Executive Committee (NEC) to select the candidate, rather than local members.

Mr O’Brien, a practising barrister and former government solicitor general and Home Office minister, claimed in a tweet: “I note that the Coventry North West Labour Shortlist has two candidates which, even on the truncated NEC process, is a breach of Clause 5i of the Selection procedure.”

Former Stourbridge Labour MP Lynda Waltho: “This is awful – I’ve also heard reports today of strong arm tactics in the West Midlands re Cov NW and Cov S seats ….. intimidation of clp officers and threats of suspensions.”

The national party has denied any wrongdoing in the hotly contested Labour strongholds in which stalwart MPs Geoffrey Robinson and Jim Cunningham are to retire at the next general election, which could be imminent. Party officials have also claimed selections for longlists were made on merit.

We also revealed on Friday the shortlist for Coventry South is Zarah Sultana, who works at the West Midlands regional party, and Neeraj Patil, a medic and Lambeth councillor.

We have approached the Labour Party for further comment on the latest claims.

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