The selection of a Labour parliamentary candidate for the South Thanet constituency, which following boundary changes, might become a winnable seat for the party is, sources tell me, brewing up a storm.
No it’s not the return of #lushgate Karen Constantine who’s shenanigans caused her to lose three South Thanet parliamentary selection campaigns in a row. It’s something much worse that!
It’s the post-Corbyn manipulation of Labour Party parliamentary selection processes by Keir Starmer supporters across the country, who are determined to ensure that the parliamentary candidates they favour, who often have no links with the constituencies they are seeking to represent, are given unfair leg-ups to aid their chances of winning.
In the South Thanet constituency, I am told that influential Starmer supporting Labour Party members are throwing their weight behind Polly Billington from London, who has thrown her hat in the ring to be considered for the MP vacancy. I have never met, or communicated with, Ms Billington but there is no doubting the fact that she has an excellent political track record including serving as local councillor in Hackney.
However, there are equally outstanding local candidates, such as Charlotte Cornell and Thanet Councillor Rob Yates who both have strong local roots and long histories of community campaigning in Thanet the East Kent area, but who are said to have been elbowed unceremoniously out of the way by those supporting Ms Billington.
For example, widely circulated claims by senior party members that Thanet Labour needs new blood from the outside, deliberately aim to undermine experienced local politicians by suggesting they are sub-standard, non-MP material, rejects. So do condescending suggestions that local labour activists should focus their energy upon standing for Thanet Council in 2019, rather than engaging in the serious grownup game of parliamentary politics.
Not that I am suggesting any impropriety on Ms Billington’s part, but I have also been told that she may have been provided with a list of party members telephone numbers, whilst other candidates were not, and that she then proceeded to cold call these members to canvass their support. Whilst I have no evidence to support any wrongdoing by Ms Billington, I understand that this has led to some complaints to the party.
I also understand from my sources that there is some disquiet about the cost of Ms Billington’s selection campaign. Once again, I am not suggesting that any rules have been broken by her, but some party members are asking question how much her extremely professional and slick campaign has cost and who might have funded it.
As a longstanding commentator on local politics I feel obliged
to report on the concerns which have been brought to my attention and the growing feeling of unfairness which appears to be surrounding South Thanet Labour’s parliamentary selection campaign. But there are those in Labour who argue that because I am not a party member I should keep my nose out of their internal affairs.
This is profoundly anti-democratic claptrap coming from the mouths of arrogant fools. There are over 70,000 voters in the South Thanet constituency. I believe that they have the right to know as much as possible about the processes by which the political parties select those who aspire to represent us in parliament.
In fact I would go further. Instead of having parliamentary candidates foisted upon us by a secretive process involving a tiny handful of unrepresentative activists, the selection of candidates for parliament and all other elected offices should include a substantial element of direct public participation in the process, as it does in America through the primaries process. I will write more about this later.
I also believe that wherever possible, and in keeping with fair representation, our MPs and councillors should be local residents.
If you have any information you might think should be “out there” please contact me on 07866588766 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Strictest confidence. I never, ever, reveal my sources. Ian