Saturday, January 28, 2023

National Labour Party takes charge of council candidate selection in Leicester

The Guardian reports that Labour's national executive committee - will in future choose council candidates in Leicester instead of local members:

The move has provoked anger among Labour’s 49 city councillors, 37 of whom have signed a document demanding the proposals are urgently withdrawn for being undemocratic.

But the move has also been praised by some local activists as the first step towards wresting control of Leicester East Labour party away from [Keith] Vaz who represented the constituency for 32 years.

My sympathies are instinctively with the 37 councillors, but the Guardian, of course, has talked to unnamed 'constituency sources' who told them

Vaz had maintained control over the constituency and worked closely with a cadre of councillors. They claim he could still attempt to stand for parliament again or handpick another candidate for the next general election.

Keith Vaz is quoted as denying any ambition of returning to the Commons.

Labour HQ may also have been spooked by a recent by-election deep in Vaz's former constituency Leicester East. Labour fielded a candidate seen as being strongly pro Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party and presumably lost moderate and Muslim voters as a result.

Not that imposing candidates from the centre has a happy history in Leicester. Claudia Webbe who took over from Vaz as Labour candidate in 2019 and held the seat, was a favourite of the Corbynites and many in Leicester felt she had been wished upon the local party.

In October 2021 she was found guilty of harassment, with the judge describing her evidence as "untruthful" and her defence "as "vague, incoherent and at times illogical".

She now sits as an Independent.


Unknown said...

Isn't this more to do with the infiltration of the Local Party by Modi sympathisers ?

Jonathan Calder said...

You're right - I was misremembering what happened in the North Evington contest - and I 've rewritten a sentence in the light of your point.