Labour open candidate selection process to women

THE debate rumbles on inside Camden’s Labour as to how far the net was really cast to find suitable candidates to stand at next year’s council elections. A sore point remains the refusal to open it up after Jeremy Corbyn’s surprise performance at the general election in June. Organisers point to be a councillor open days and rounds of invitation sent by emails, but the unhappy say it was kept low-key to avoid new members – you’ll understand what that’s code for – getting involved.

We’ve been through this before but after a few change of hearts and resignations, the party last week was left with only 53 approved candidates to fill 54 slots on the boroughwide ballot to be held next May. Curious, perhaps, from a party with a membership of somewhere around 5,000 people across Camden’s two political constituencies. The Local Campaign Forum chairman Mike Katz, who saw a motion brought up at a Hampstead and Kilburn constituency meeting calling on him to step down and the selections halted fail last week, has now confirmed it will be opened up again after all. The party are inviting women members to come forward as a first measure.

A chance for new faces? As some ward selections have been made – Fortune Green, Holborn and St Pancras, Highgate, Somers Town already know who their candidates will be – there will be slimmer pickings for anybody joining the process at this late hour. They need to be interviewed and approved before they can get started, and as each evening passes another ward is snapped up. Tonight, for example, we are due to learn who gets the final selection in one of Labour’s safest seats, King’s Cross.

Mr Katz laid out how it would work over the weekend in a message to members – including some detail on the controversial ‘freeze date’.

Dear member

As you will be aware, Camden Labour is currently going through the process of selecting candidates for the Camden council election which take place next May.

In order to ensure the best possible levels of representation from women amongst our council candidates (and hopefully councillors), the Local Campaign Forum has decided to invite further applications from women members who have not previously applied for selection for the 2018 elections.

We are seeking to add candidates to the panel as we progress through the selection timetable, so you are advised to respond to this invitation as soon as possible. You do this by returning your completed self-nomination and declaration form and diversity monitoring form.

Upon receipt of these, we will ask your local Labour branch for a report about your involvement in party, including campaigning activity and attendance at meetings. As long as you satisfy basic eligibility criteria, you will be asked to an interview to assess your suitability as a potential candidate and councillor.

If you pass this interview stage, you will then go forward immediately as a member of the ‘Panel’ of potential candidates from which wards can choose to short-list and ultimately select candidates. If you are unsuccessful, you are entitled to appeal the decision.

You should note that, should you wish to put yourself forward, you need to have been a member of the Labour Party continuously for 12 months from 6 February 2017 (known as the ‘freeze date’) and be resident in Camden. (Labour Party Rules dictate that we must use the original freeze date that the LCF set, despite the delay in the process caused by the general election.)

Attached at the bottom of this email is a role description for councillors, eligibility criteria, code of conduct for this process, assessment criteria plus a self-nomination form declaration and a diversity monitoring form.

If you do decide to put yourself forward, please do read the code of conduct for this selection process, as set down by the Labour Party nationally. The Local Campaign Forum is responsible for ensuring a fair process and we will ensure that this code is followed and enforced, where necessary.

I would like to wish you the best of luck

Yours sincerely

Mike Katz
Chair, Camden Local Campaign Forum

 

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