Friday, May 15, 2009

Erith and Thamesmead Selection: Trouble Shooting 2

Piecing together all kinds of strands of information and referring to the 25 stages established in the previous post, and repeated in the small print below, we get:

The Interventions

A. At stage 4-5-6-7 the Constituency Labour Party (CLP) voted against All Woman Shortlist (AWS) and to recommend an Open Selection, the Party's National Executive Committee nonetheless followed established policy and made the seat an AWS, there were of course recriminations, and a sectarian blogger blogged his sour load. Bit hard to know what he was getting at it must be said.

B. The process proceeded to 12. With a strong long list of eight getting going. The Procedures Secretary wasn't feeling too clever by now and all is delegated to an assistant, who sadly signs off letters in their own name. They happen to be campaign manager of one of the local favourites. So this won't do.

The Party take over with the Party General Secretary Ray Collins in effect becoming the surrogate Procedures Secretary. Though it must be said that he himself is believed to be a backer of one of the eight. Which might seem like a bizarre frying pan/fire moment.

C. Surrogate Procedures Secretary Ray Collins decides for reasons best known to himself (and his confidants) that all the Long List of eight should go forward to the final hustings and vote, however many endorsements they have or have not got.

The 50% minimum BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) norm ceases to be an issue. No one will be eliminated. An eight-horse race and all to play for. And - very significantly perhaps - an extraordinarily long procedure to get through eight candidates' speeches and Q and As. Three hours probably, four possibly, plus the actual voting part of the process.

D. Postal Votes - available to a fairly large contingent of the selectorate - are slotted into a cardboard "Ballot Box" as they arrive and are safely stored in a locked cupboard at the heart of Labour Party HQ, doubling as London Region HQ. But there is an extraordinary VictoriaStreetGate "burglary", the security is penetrated, the albeit sturdy cardboard box and its cable tie are compromised, and a small proportion of the ballots therein are torn.

Meaning that the sneak preview had become something more. Torn ballots can't be undone by a substitute box and cable tie. Presumably ballots are damaged beyond sellotaping? The fact of the "burglary" cannot be concealed certainly. But why take these votes out of the reckoning? Or postpone the rest of the process? Have the people got it wrong or something?!

E. The CLP Chair, who would normally preside over the final Hustings, goes off on one in a two-page rant to all CLP members. Slagging off the All Women Shortlist. Calling I believe for a re-opening of the whole process as an Open Selection. Name calling and head emptying a-go-go.

Also not a particularly well comrade, health wise. "Suspended' as presiding officer for Hustings, though rumours fly around of suspension from the party and/or suspension as CLP Chair. Not true, just replaced as Hustings Chair.

F. A new date - this coming Saturday, tomorrow - was set for the final selection. All those given PVs first time round, even the unwilling with no particular rationale, were still included in that PV scheme, despite the controversy. No re-application required.

So what's going on? Next post scheduled for 09:00. Bluffers' guide to what's occuring deep down Sarf of the River.

1. Vacancy? 2. Shortlist of one? Or Contest? 3. Procedures Secretary etc appointed 4. CLP representations to NEC on AWS 5. NEC decides AWS, advertises. 6. Sounding off by grumpy men 7. Sectarian Bloggers cast aspersions 8. Candidates including BME apply with pro forma CVs 9. Sort out campaigns 10. Da Commitee decide on Da Longlist 11. Long-listees obtain membership list 12. Da Committee decide target Shortlist Size ...

13. Initial constituency hustings? 14. Branch and affiliate events and endorsements 15. Branches choose one open and one BME nominee 16. Unions and affiliates, such as Socialist Societies and Co-op Parties also endorse 17. Scores on the doors and shortlist 18. More campaigning 19. Applications for PV status 20. Final Hustings and Selection called ...

21. Hustings and vote by STV 22. Ballot Boxes are opened to gasps and mostly yawns. "Live" ones first. Then "postals". Often more gasps than yawns at these 23. Transfers until winner reaches quota 24. PPC is declared 25. Constituency united behind winner.

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