“THIS is an exceptional list of candidates full of talent and experience,” said Len Duvall, the chair of the London Labour Regional Board as he announced in December who the party would field in the City Hall elections. “It’s also a list that reflects London in terms of women, BAME and LGBT candidates.”
Labour’s top-up list of candidates standing in the London-wide list – the peachy ballot paper in which voters selected a party rather than a candidate last week – could not find a prime place for a BAME candidate in its top three slots, however.
Instead, Murad Qureshi, who spoke on Jeremy Corbyn’s behalf at nomination meetings during the Labour leadership contest last summer was demoted from his previous place as second on the list, and Tom Copley, well-known in Camden as a former council candidate, Fiona Twycross and Nicky Gavron scored the plum positions.
Those three, as was always expected, were elected on Friday. Murad, meanwhile, was not; a victim of the away goals rule, as people were describing it on Friday evening.
A bit bizarrely, Labour’s gain of a constituency seat in Merton conversely cost them a seat when the PR list was divided up. This odd electoral trap door was being warned about last year, with people suggesting Murad would be the big loser if Labour did better than expected; this messageboard in which Tom Copley is described as ‘hyperactive’ on big issues, spells out the danger and sets up a survey as to whether Labour should have a more open way of choosing list candidates and their place positions on it.
And so it was that on a night of celebration in London for the Labour Party, with its new Mayor and Assembly successes, Murad became the fall guy, exiting City Hall by a sort of Duckworth-Lewis method, or the D’Hondt system as it is known officially. As Labour celebrated the election of its first Muslim mayor, it was losing the man who had been called London’s first Muslim assembly member back in 2004.
The 50-year-old has been a good sport about it, see his Twitter feed, but disheartened supporters are privately asking what he did wrong over 12 years on the London Assembly; his recent online scraps took place well after the list and the preferential order was decided. They are pointing to the fact that he was an assembly member well before both Tom and Fiona arrived, but say angrily that his unwillingness to ‘play games’ ahead of selection meetings and interviews had seen him suddenly slide down into a more perilous position. That old story.
Still, there’s always Tooting.