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, October 19, 2010

Some Basics

I'm not going to go into the detail of the rights and wrongs of the Tower Hamlets Labour Mayoral selection due to lack of time, not having been on the NEC when the evidence was presented, and due to the risk of losing the will to live.

But some basics about my expectations of how people involved in contentious selection decisions should behave - not necessarily rulebook basics but the basics of how you operate in a political party and show respect for its decisions and acknowledgement that as a prospective candidate you are not important, its the party that gives you the platform to run on and delivers activists and votes for you that's important.

My basics would be:

  • If you don't get selected, however unfair you think the process or decision has been, you take it on the chin. Afterwards you can pursue your case through the Party or get the rules changed for future selections. But you don't drag the Party through the courts at great expense. And you don't run as an independent because the fact you'd even want to be a candidate for public office without being Labour's candidate kinda proves you weren't that fit to be the Labour candidate in the first place.
  • If you hold national office in the Labour Party or are a Labour candidate yourself, however unfair you think the treatment of a friend or ally was in a Labour selection you don't go public with that during the election and you certainly don't campaign for them or appear in any way to endorse them. You get out there and campaign for the Labour candidate then pursue your friend's case or a change to selection rules within the party after the election.

Simple rules of self-discipline but ones that create unity and harmony. What a shame some people in Tower Hamlets and the wider London Party don't follow them.


Blogger Left Futures said...

"If you don't get selected, however unfair you think the process or decision has been, you take it on the chin." So presumably this should apply to Abbass when he was excluded from the shortlist? Or perhaps, since he did then get on the shortlist because of Lutfur's legal challenge rather than his own, when he came third in the members' selection?

The truth is, Luke,that, whilst I might accept your "basics" as a general rule of thumb, there are occasions when the breaches of natural justice and the severity of the stitch ups are so bad, I'd cast them aside.

Ken Liningstone's treatment in the first selection of a Labour candidate for London Mayor was one such example. Most Labour Party members in London backed him as an independent candidate ans did most Londoners. And he was rightly readmitted to the party, served as a Labour Mayor and is now the party candidate again.

Tower Hamlets is, in my view, another extreme case. It's been in special measures for over 10 years during which time every membership application has been carefully vetted by regional officers, every selection that was allowed (most weren't) carefully controlled by regional officers.

At the last council election, every candidate was imposed by regional officers. Some of them had previously been elected as Respect councillors - the normal rules don't apply in Tower Hamlets! The allocation was designed to ensure that Lutfur was removed as council leader.

In the selection process, the regional staff and each of the NEC/Regional EC selction panels, advised by national & regional staff, also sought to exclude Lutfur. When the members were eventually alloweed a choice they chose Lutfur but he was still excluded. His exclusion was engineered to take place at the last possible moment before the close of nominations, to exclude any further proper process.

This is a miscarriage of justice and I think your "basics" don't apply.

Tell me, Luke, I know that you think "Labour staff … should not be neutral referees. They should be able to promote the candidates and policies of the elected leadership of the party against their internal critics" because you've said it here before. In whose interest and on whose instructions have they been acting in Tower Hamlets?

Jon Lansman

10:58 am, October 19, 2010

Anonymous M said...

"If you don't get selected, however unfair you think the process or decision has been, you take it on the chin".

I'm sorry, Luke, though I think Ken is making a mistake in the way he's gone about this your statement above is utter tripe. Wait till you are personally at the end of a blatant, great, big, stinking injustice ("It would never happen to me!") and see how you react. There is every reason to condemn Ken's unnecessary provocation yesterday but Lutfur Rahman had every right to fight the disgraceful stitch up in the courts or anywhere else he could get justice.

12:10 pm, October 19, 2010

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You were happy to let him campaign in New River (fat lot of good it did...)

12:13 pm, October 19, 2010

Blogger Jimmy said...

You forgot the most important rule:

"Not applicable to Ken Livingstone"

12:44 pm, October 19, 2010

Anonymous Julian Ware-Lane said...

There are some that see rejection as some sort of conspiracy. Provided that rules are obeyed and the process is transparent and fair then I think your post is valid. When I have failed selections in the past I have sought to look at what I was doing that was wrong and tried to put it right. I have not looked for excuses or for someone to blame.

1:58 pm, October 19, 2010

Blogger David L said...

From an outside perspective it appears pretty much everyone involved has acted badly.

I have to say, I think Livingstone's actions are outrageous. As a very high-profile standard-bearer for Labour, for him to undermine the Party so publicly is very serious indeed. If he felt so strongly about all this, he could have stayed quiet and refused to endorse or campaign for Abbas. He didn't have to do his own Party over like he has.

But saying that, it's pretty obvious to me that the NEC's decision was actually damn stupid. And I think Luke's point about "taking it on the chin" and pursuing the matter afterwards is rubbish: the whole process is so devoid of democracy that for many wronged members it may feel the only way to see justice done is to stand as an indy. I'm not defending that decision, I'm saying it's not entirely illogical.

Basically, I broadly agree with Luke's second rule, but broadly disagree with the first. I also think that if that last quote attributed to you is correct that's pretty disgusting (and very Stalinist, and very destructive)

2:15 pm, October 19, 2010

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come off it, you always knew what the deal was with Ken.

Didn't he use the bog in your flat once.

He is always likely to piss on you.

Just like that talentless bully Gordy, there was a time when in the interests of the party you should have shafted him.

2:35 pm, October 19, 2010

Anonymous Anonymous said...


3:41 pm, October 19, 2010

Blogger johnpaul said...

jon Lansman (left futures)Yes Ken did rejoin the Labour party 4 years after being expelled, although he backed the greens for the Assmebly and didn't back labour at the 2001 election ,he rejoined Because he noew he would do better back in the Party,Did he ever call for the SDP to rejoin, and when he got back in the party he lost in 2008,it wasn't Boris that one, Ken got more votes the time he lost than when he won,people voted to get him out rather than Boris, Boris is currently more popular than Ken in the polls for the 2012 mayoral race too.

7:01 pm, October 19, 2010

Anonymous East Ender said...

Excellest post Luke. I'm a Tower Hamlets activist and voter for Ken and I'm very deeply angry disappointed.

Are you supporting the Labour candidate Mr Lansman? - you do live in the boroguh - you have been notable by your absence from the campaign trial.

10:48 pm, October 19, 2010

Blogger Merseymike said...

To be frank, the NEC made themselves look daft by selecting the candidate who came third. Just made it look like a stitch-up even if it wasn't.

And Ken was quite right to stand as an independent against Dobson who shouldn't have allowed himself to be stupidly used. Loads of people in the Labour party in London voted for Ken, and everyone knows it.

11:39 pm, October 19, 2010

Blogger johnpaul said...

Mersey mike, and lots of people who where in the labour party in 83voted for the SDP, and they know it too

7:50 pm, October 20, 2010

Anonymous Rich said...

I'm more concerned about the 600,000 people that are to lose their jobs, the millions of low paid workers who are not getting inflationary pay rises and millions on benefits that are going to be plunged further into poverty.

Worse still that the bankers collecting
huge bonuses are the ones that have caused this are escaping at the expense of the poor.

Labour and it's activists should taking the argument to the people that these cuts are ideological cuts not necessary cuts. The cuts are not fair either and the decisions made have been political not fair.

9:48 pm, October 20, 2010

Anonymous Daniel Blaney said...

All very interesting Luke - simple question - what if you DO get selected?

10:26 pm, October 20, 2010

Anonymous Smithers said...

Please would people stop leaving comments about the Frank Dobson/Ken Livingston selection as London Mayoral candidate debacle?

The subject is a cause of great embarrassment to Luke and Linda and is surely avoidable.

2:55 pm, October 21, 2010

Blogger Miller 2.0 said...

"You get out there and campaign for the Labour candidate then pursue your friend's case or a change to selection rules within the party after the election."

The problem is basically that there is no mechanism for this.

1:44 pm, October 25, 2010


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