28 April 2009

Labour Family Trees

When it comes to selecting candidates, I don't think you'll ever find me holding up the Conservative Party as a paragon of virtue, but compared to the Labour Party we approach perfection. Several recent contests involving all-women-shortlists have resulted in organisational chaos and worse. If you were looking for arguments for selecting on merit alone, the catalogue of chaos that follows makes a strong case.

The most obvious debacle is of course Erith and Thamesmead where the 22 year old daughter of Lord Gould was placed as favourite before the whole show was called off after some ballot box tampering back at Labour HQ. You'd have thought that Labour would have learnt from Crewe & Nantwich that nepotism is unappealing - but then again there are many unlearnt lessons from that campaign.

Speaking of 'it's not what you know' Tony Blair's mother-in-law recently won out in an acrimonious contest in the Calder Valley.

Not wishing to be upstaged, West Midlands Labour have organised an all-women-contest in the wake of the mysterious departure of Cllr Kim Brom from the inner city ward of Lozells & East Handsworth. Contest you say? Well not really. Despite interest from various quarters, only one name was put forward to the party membership - benefit claimant, Hendrina Quinnen, leaving Khalid Mahmood's former squeeze out in the cold.

But this time Elaina Cohen isn't taking things lying down. It appears that when she was canvassing for support she was told she was too white and jewish and has a witness to back her up. All this is before I give you the lowdown on how the 27 year old daughter of the Chairman of the Birmingham Labour Party managed to win selection for Clare Short's seat... That will have to be for another day.

Labour rules may prevent men from having a fair chance, but it's all relative. ;-)


Derek Johnson said...

Excellent analysis of the internal problems hampering the Labour Party. The emerging Lozells and East Handsworth allegations are, if true, shocking.

These come on the back of rumours that female councillors within the Birmingham Labour Group are choosing not to continue their political careers, rather than standing up to the alleged misogyny of certain male councillors.

The alleged treatment of Ms Cohen is I am afraid a new low for the Labour Party in Birmingham. If these allegations against Cllr. Hussain are found to be proven, then it must act swiftly and decisively, withdraw the whip and tear up his membership card.

Elected representatives are supposed to treat all their constituents equally and fairly - regardless of their origins. If a white Jewish woman is deemed unsuitable to stand for election, it does make one wonder how a white Jewish woman with a council tax problem, or a housing issue would be treated. Very worrying!

It strikes one as odd, that despite the activities of Ms. Harperson nationally, Labour doesn't practice what it preaches. Discrimination appears to be rife, and as an organisation it does not reflect a code of fairness it expects from the rest of us.

The Erith & Thamesmead saga is appalling, especially in that Tessa Jowell is accused of having interfered in the selection process of another constituency association and dangling the carrot of increased public resources for the area for the "right" candidate.

A sorry tale.

Ross said...

They really do seem to treat elected posts as some sort of family business.

CityUnslicker said...

the last bit should read 'it's all relatives'

Anonymous said...

Presumably changing your surname to Alden or Lines will get you pushed up the Tory candidate roster in Birmingham.