A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A rift in Erith

Word reaches me of NEC Member and veteran Bennite organiser Pete Willsman falling out a bit with his Erith & Thamesmead CLP.

They are picking a new parliamentary candidate to replace Campaign Group MP John Austin (once John Austin-Walker). At a consultation meeting activists voted by 34 to 2 to have an "open" selection rather than an All Women Shortlist. Willsman was one of the two.

But at the NEC Org Sub today which determines which seats are AWSs, rather than voting the way his own CLP wanted, Willsman voted again to make the seat AWS.

The intended left beneficiary is Cllr Angela Cornforth.

But Willsman's push for AWS may unintentionally deliver a rather different kind of Labour MP for his home patch as fellow NEC member Ellie Reeves stands a good chance of beating Cornforth.


Anonymous tim f said...

You're criticising someone on the left for voting for an AWS shortlist?

I don't know anything about the politics of this CLP, but would you not concede that this is the right way to vote in principle?

11:31 pm, January 13, 2009

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Not quite.

If you support AWS (as I do) that means you want at least 50% of vacant seats to be AWS until such a point as women are half the PLP.

It certainly doesn't mean every single vacancy should be AWS. Half are not supposed to be.

This wasn't a vote about the principle of AWS it was one about the technical question of whether this single seat should have been one.

The Org Sub is supposed to determine this based on regional patterns etc. i.e. approx every second vacancy in every region is supposed to go AWS, with more if the region or sub-region has very few women MPs, and some get-out clauses around seats with a high BME population, which can be given the chance to pick male candidates if this is expected to increase BME representation. Some people are alleging Willsman voted the way he did to help his favoured candidate.

Personally I think the only fair way to do it is to stick the names of all the vacant seats into a hat, then pull out half of them and declare them AWS and the remainder open.

11:43 pm, January 13, 2009

Anonymous tim f said...

Peronally I would like more than 50% of vacant seats to be AWS. I do agree with the point about the hat, though.

All I'm saying is that it's right to make the case in front of your CLP for having an AWS. Whatever your motivation (and in a selection meeting, everyone has one). I think it's a bit off to criticise someone for doing the right thing, just because he might possibly have the same sort of motive that you would probably have yourself in such a meeting.

11:55 pm, January 13, 2009

Blogger Mark Still News said...

AWS shortlists are pc right-wing crap!

You should vote for the best left wing Trade Union candidate whether it be a male or female?

The Labour party needs to get all these right wing middle class ----- out and bring in left wing working class people!!

12:36 am, January 14, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Did Ellie Reeves Vote?
How did she vote?

8:51 am, January 14, 2009

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

She withdrew from the Org Sub meeting for the obvious reason that she had a personal interest in the vote.

9:07 am, January 14, 2009

Blogger Merseymike said...

But you would do exactly the same, Luke, because essentially you are a sectarian slate enthusiast in good old Labour Students tradition.

I don;t think you realise how offputting it is to those of us not willing to have a sectarian label. The late Val Price, an outstanding woman, stood for the NEC a number of times and never made it though came close - because she didn't want to be part of a slate. Pity when sectarian groups and their resources (and I include the other slates in this too) can ease more free thinking people out.

10:05 am, January 14, 2009

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

What resources?

Labour First's only resource is a free hotmail address.

10:49 am, January 14, 2009

Blogger E10 Rifle said...

Good to see Luke hasn't refuted the "sectarian slate enthusiast" allegation anyhow.

And in any case, I wish Grassroots Alliance slate member Ellie Reeves well.

12:14 pm, January 14, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"She (Ellie Reeves) withdrew from the Org Sub meeting for the obvious reason that she had a personal interest in the vote."

And why didn't the same logic apply to Pete Willsman?

1:10 pm, January 14, 2009

Anonymous tim f said...

Because he wasn't intending to stand for the seat, perhaps?

I am really struggling to see the problem here.

2:27 pm, January 14, 2009

Anonymous Mark A said...

What was the outcome though? Is it an AWS?

2:36 pm, January 14, 2009

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I think his interest is that it is the seat he lives in. Just as if you are a councillor you don't take part in a planning decision that affects your own street.

It is AWS. Which I think is fair seeing as London Labour seat vacancies have so far been AWS in Walthamstow and Finchley and Open in Streatham and Southall.

4:26 pm, January 14, 2009

Anonymous Mark A said...

Technicality I know Luke - but that's what you get from a fellow anorak - Southall was actually an AWS for the next election (Piarra Khabra having already indicated that he was standing down) - when the by-election came along on the old boundaries, a new decision was taken to make it open

5:04 pm, January 14, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ellie would make a great candidate, and hopefully see both Reeves sisters in Parliament.

5:27 pm, January 14, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why are there not All Black Shortlists (ABS)?

Why, given what Harpie Harman was threatening earlier in the week, are there not All Dummy Shortlists (for those poor bastards who've been victims of Labour's educational policies)?

6:48 pm, January 14, 2009

Blogger Miller 2.0 said...

"Labour First's only resource is a free hotmail address."

Whose? :op

When I was a Labour Student I got a great email asking me to vote down the line!

12:12 am, January 15, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you are all missing the point Wisllsman knew the postion of the CLP he knew the CLP voted against AWS but still voted in favour at the Org sub, who puts him on the NEC he can't get there whithout E&T vote, too late now

8:36 am, January 15, 2009

Blogger Chris Paul said...

Luke - this post is drivel really isn't it? Pete was right to support AWS as the preferred default. Your formulation in the 2nd comment above of 50% of vacant seats OBVIOUSLY ain't going to deliver parity on any reasonable timetable. It would need to be 4/5ths or the like of winnables to get a reasonable move on.

And as Pete is not on the NEC as a delegate from his CLP expecting him to act as if 'mandated' is also sectarian crap.

You know that it's crap Luke, you'd be the first to point it out if someone called Peter Wheeler or Ellie Reeves for not following their CLP policies at NEC, so why carry on this vendetta in this way?

1:30 pm, January 15, 2009

Anonymous Rich said...

All the crap about being green and the argument for greater taxes to encourage greener living, the government gives a third runway the go ahead.

What a contradiction and how the hell is this government going to meet its own carbon targets with policy like this.

The government should stand down and call an election....enough is enough.

8:55 pm, January 15, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree with Chris Paul.

Pete W is a member of the NEC, representing all CLPs, not just Erith and Thamesmead. The Labour Party nationally is committed to AWS and Pete was supporting that.

It's important for places like Southall and E&T to have an AWS as they are more likely to return a Labour MP - John Austin has a majority of 30%, Rudi Vis has a majority of less than 3%.

And Luke is also well aware that his voting line has been handily publicised as Tom Miller says to Young Labour members - without explanation - in the recent past...

3:01 pm, January 16, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pulling names of CLPs out of a hat defeats the principle of AWS, which is to ensure parity of representation between men and women for *winnable* and non-winnable seats.

Already, AWS has come under criticism from some quarters for largely selecting women for marginal or unwinnable seats, arguably making the position worse as it discourages women for standing for the safest seats.

It is crucial that, to have credibility among the women it aims to target, AWS is spread across the full range of seats and not determined at random.

8:22 am, February 13, 2009


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