THE deadline passed on Friday for Labour members to apply to be candidates at next year’s council elections, so organisers will now have a fair idea as to whether there really will be a left-wing takeover in wards where councillors have been accused of undermining Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
At the height of Corbyn’s leadership contest wins, there was much whispering about the possibility of deselections in wards where there has been open criticism of the Islington North MP. More recently though, it has been suggested backstage that Momentum members and others aligned to Corbyn do not have the manpower – or the will – to instigate an earth-shattering coup. The sharp line from centrists is that Corbynites like to talk about about revolution, but do not really see answering broken boiler queries in councillor surgeries on a Friday evening as the way to achieve it.
That all said, the membership in Camden across both constituencies backed Corbyn against Owen Smith when asked to endorse a candidate last summer, despite some high profile pressure not to from Keir Starmer, Frank Dobson, Dame Jane Roberts and several leading local councillors.
Whether this defiant streak translates into anything more, we will see in a selection process due to take three months. A change in rules has given sitting councillors a bit of cushion, however; one which might have saved Mike Katz, who was deselected in Kilburn before the last boroughwide elections, the most striking example of this kind of thing in recent times. Applicants have been told that incumbents can automatically be reselected by individual branches “at the shortlisting stage”, sparing them the potential ordeal of an open vote. Local organisers will just hope this system doesn’t lead to resentment if some incumbents received immunity, while others don’t.