The executive committee of the Wakefield Constituency Labour Party (CLP) has resigned en masse amid a row over the selection of the candidate for the forthcoming by-election.
The executive committee of the Wakefield Constituency Labour Party has shared a statement on its unanimous decision to resign after the party shortlisted two members in its process to pick the party’ candidate in the by-election.
The Labour Party is supposed to be preparing to fight the Conservatives at the by-election in Wakefield, called after former Tory MP Imran Ahman Khan formally resigned his seat following his conviction for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy.
But the party has instead Starmer has not followed Party rules and now they are fighting among themselves over who will be selected as the Labour candidate.
Labour narrowed down the candidates on Wednesday to a longlist of four: Kate Dearden, Simon Lightwood, Sam Howarth and Rachael Kenningham. Dearden and Lightwood, neither of whom live in the constituency, were shortlisted on Thusday. Both are due to take part in a hustings on Sunday, after which members will vote.
One member of the local executive, who announced that they are resigning their membership of the party, said they “felt totally disenfranchised from the selection process”. They described the shortlisting of the two candidates as “jackboot diplomacy” and warned that the party is becoming an “enemy to local democracy”.
“I am not a typical left-wing antagonist. I voted for both Keir and Angela and stand by that vote. However, my name will not be attached to what is happening now,” they added.
A member of the CLP told LabourList that following the start of the selection process the local party is “very fractured”, and another reported that they would be resigning their membership and will not vote for the party in the upcoming by-election.
On Friday, a member of the executive at the meeting confirmed all members of the CLP had resigned.
“Safe to say that local members feel completely let down that the rule book has not been followed and we have not been given the opportunity to select our candidate,” they said.
“The Labour Party haven’t learnt and they’re not listening. The rule book has just been through the window and I’m furious. People are hitting the ceiling about it.
“That’s everyone gone. Imagine the party will have to come in. I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
The row could be a big problem for Labour as the party attempts to use all its resources at the Wakefield by-election to have a chance of taking it back from the Conservatives.
Without their ground troops the local campaign will be severely diminished as will their chances of winning this crucial red wall battle.
Again Labour look intent on placing a parachuted Remainer candidates in an overwhelmingly Leave voting constituency, Wakefield had a leave vote of 66.4%.
Labour members in Wakefield are outraged. It seems like the Labour Party are intent on repeating the fiasco of Hartlepool all over again.
Journalist Owen Jones reported this morning that “the entire executive” had resigned in protest at the national Labour party breaking its own rules and refusing to allow local members to freely choose their own candidate”.
I’ve just been told that the entire executive of the Wakefield Constituency Labour Party has resigned in protest at the national Labour party breaking its own rules and refusing to allow local members to freely choose their own candidate.— Owen Jones 🌹 (@OwenJones84) May 13, 2022
A statement is being released shortly.
In a further statement he wrote on Facebook “I’ve just been told that the entire executive of the Wakefield Constituency Labour Party has resigned in protest at the national Labour party breaking its own rules and refusing to allow local members to freely choose their own candidate for the upcoming by-election.
In the Labour leadership election, Keir Starmer promised to allow local party members to select their own candidates for every election.
According to one Wakefield Labour activist: “The reasons for this action include the PPC timing, timescale, disregard of rules and denying the CLP full representation. No local candidate was longlisted, overlooking three local candidates, one of whom is the Deputy Leader of the Council. Keir Starmer has thrown the rule book out of the window.
There is already anger and a backlash from voters who have seen their two previous MPs parachuted in. The two candidates shortlisted are not from the District and are both Brexit remain advocates, Wakefield had a leave vote of 66.4%.
Labour members in Wakefield are outraged.”
They add that the Constituency Labour party’s systems access was suspended before the by election candidate long list was announced, preventing them from contacting members.
Just astonishing behaviour.”