Hobson’s choice?

13 Jun

Local Labour party members will get to select their candidate for the upcoming Forest Gate North by-election at a special meeting on Thursday. Or at least that’s the theory.

An email all members from Patrick Murphy, chair of Newham Labour’s local campaign forum sets out the timetable:

If you wish to be considered as a candidate for this Election, you are advised of the following timetable:

Applications invited.        10th June.
Close of Applications.     14th June.
Interview Panel.              15th June.
FGN meets to Shortlist   16th June.
Selection of Candidate.  16th June.

Please note that you must have been a Labour Party member for 1 year (cut off date June 10th 2015). 

This has taken some members by surprise. At the last ward meeting Ellie Robinson, whose resignation has triggered the by-election, told them there was no need to discuss the selection process there and then as there was no rush to hold the by-election. And members got an email from Rachel Tripp and Seyi Akiwowo inviting anyone who was interested in standing, or had any questions about what it was like to be a councillor, to get in touch. They said they’d organise a meeting if enough people were interested.

That has obviously now gone by the board. The speed with which the by-election has been called, and the consequent urgency to select a candidate, has left some fearing a stitch-up by the leadership.

But that was always likely anyway, no matter how many local members expressed an interest or however long they took to talk about the process. The local campaign forum – which is a tool of the leadership – will interview all applicants and decide the shortlist of potential candidates to go forward to the branch for selection. Local members will have their choice, but only from options approved by Sir Robin’s lieutenants.

Councillor John Gray, writing on his blog, has tried to reassure members:

I am Vice Chair of the Branch and gave a commitment to members at our last meeting that the branch would do every thing possible to make sure that the selection process is fair, democratic and inclusive. 

Brave words. But in truth there is little that can be done, especially given that nomination papers have to with the council by 4 p.m. on Friday 17th. Any attempt to appeal the process to Labour head office would risk the party having no candidate. That’s simply not going to happen.

In talking to local members about who might put themselves forward four names have come up: 

  • Dr. Martin Edobor, a junior hospital doctor and national chair of the Young Fabians
  • Wendy Mitchell, a former Hackney councillor now living in Forest Gate.
  • Anamul Islam, a trade union activist in the PCS
  • Amanjit Jhund, “Doctor, Entrepreneur and Labour Party Activist”, according to his Twitter bio. Stood in Scotland in the 2015 general election and, er, didn’t win. Also ‘Mr. Ellie Robinson’ (which, sadly, is likely to count against him with Sir Robin at the moment)

Of course there may be other contenders too.

We will have to wait until Friday to find out who get’s the nod. And whoever that is will be odds-on to be our new councillor.


Correction: In the original version of this post I mis-spelled Anamul Islam’s name as Anum Ismal. My apologies to him.

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One Response to “Hobson’s choice?”

  1. d June 13, 2016 at 20:46 #

    If the candidate is seen as a wales stooge there is always the oppertunity for this to be broadcast and labour ward votes to stay at home or vote for someone else…

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