EVERY sitting Labour councillor in Camden who wants to stand again at May’s council elections has so far avoided a members vote on their candidacy. The new autos system essentially allows them to sail onto the ballot paper without too much fuss.
A new system introduced by the party across the country, the autos mean each ward has an initial ballot on whether the incumbents should be automatically reselected. Despite all the plot and rumour that decorates local politics, most card-carriers just want a quiet life and are unlikely to vote for ambush or revolution, and they haven’t. We’ve said before on these pages that the constant stream of auto-reselections we’ve seen in Camden meant if anybody hadn’t been afforded this free pass from the old bearpit of selection meetings, then it would feel doubly awkward to be the only one who got pulled up. So far, everybody has been spared such a trial.
The convivial after-yous have not been extended to neighbouring Islington, however. There, sitting Labour councillor Aysegul Erdogan (pictured above with council leader Richard Watts) was deselected in the Highbury East war last Tuesday. In doing so, they were removing the first Kurdish woman to be elected in Islington from the council chamber, denying her the chance to try and defend her seat at next May’s boroughwide polls. Unsurprisingly perhaps, you don’t have to go too far to find somebody who thinks this is a bit raw, particularly from a party which says so loudly that it is championing BAME candidates.
Then on Thursday night, Cllr Erdogan – one of nine Labour councillors who put their head over the parapet and signed a letter of support for Jeremy Corbyn when he faced a leadership challenge last year – put her name forward to stand in St Peter’s but was again overlooked. There had been a natural vacancy caused by Gary Doolan’s resignation but Vivien Cutler was selected to fill the gap.