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Old 2nd May 2017, 05:49
  #8696 (permalink)  
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More signs Corbyn's cabal has abandoned Labour?s key seats and is focused on the next leadership contest Labour Uncut

The starting pistol for the election has been fired but when it comes to candidate selection, Labour has been left on the blocks. According to Labour’s selection timetable, Prospective Parliamentary Candidates in seats where the MP has stood down, are being chosen by the NEC between Sunday 23rd April and Friday 28th April and in seats without Labour MPs, between Sunday April 30th and Tuesday May 2nd. Sitting MPs have been automatically reselected.

Think about those dates for a moment. Six days to pick 14 candidates in seats Labour already holds where the MP is retiring, three days to pick 416 candidates, out of which just under 100 are the key seats needed to win a majority. Actions speak louder than words and the focus on seats where MPs are standing down tells us two things.

First, the party has written-off anything not already held.

Candidates in seats needed to form a Labour government are likely to be two weeks behind their incumbent Tory opponents, at the stage they are confirmed after the May bank holiday. Labour officials suggest that based on past election experience, sitting Tory MPs will be on their third or fourth leaflet to voters by the time Labour has candidates in place. Given the snap nature of the election, where the sole opportunity to introduce the Labour candidate to electors is the eight week window starting from Theresa May’s announcement, this is a major handicap. There are doubts whether Labour’s candidates will even be able to make the first of the two free election mailings – that’s how late our selection process runs.

Second, the factions at the top of the party are looking ahead to the aftermath of defeat and the impending Labour leadership election.

Uncut has heard repeatedly over the past days about the selection battles developing around the retiring MPs’ seats. John McDonnell has his list, Tom Watson has his list and the unions are manoeuvring behind favoured sons and daughters. In many respects, this is a traditional scramble for parliamentary berths, telescoped into a much shorter time period compared to other elections. However, one of the common features in reports of the various discussions is the hard left’s drive to boost parliamentary numbers so that a candidate from their faction can get onto a future leadership ballot.

The requirement is that 15% of the PLP and European parliamentary party need to back a leadership candidate if they are to be put before a vote of members and supporters. Currently that means 37 nominations but in a post-June 8th world where Labour’s Westminster representation will likely be slashed to around 150 MPs, the total number of nominations needed would drop to the mid-20s. Paradoxically, the expected hammering at the election will help the hard left in their quest to ensure a Corbynite successor is on the next leadership ballot.

The latest assessment is that there are 18 to 21 sitting MPs, likely to hold their seats, who would back a hard left leadership candidate. This would leave the Corbynites short by 5 to 10 MPs. In the last parliament the hard left were notoriously ineffective in securing seats for their supporters in local selections. This time, because candidates are being appointed directly by NEC committee, there is a unique opportunity to boost their numbers.

Last Tuesday I wrote that the leadership election which follows the general election is the real contest that is concentrating the minds of Jeremy Corbyn’s inner circle. A series of decisions flow from this focus, the first of which is evident in Labour’s selection timetable: the choice of candidate in 14 seats that Labour already hold matters so much more than the fate of the 93 Labour needs to form a government.
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