Trigger democracy

31 Oct

How else are you supposed to illustrate a post about a Trigger ballot?

The process to select Labour’s candidate for mayor of Newham at the May 2018 local elections has begun. And it’s being run to a very tight timetable.

An email went out last week from Cllr Patrick Murphy to members of the local campaign forum (LCF) setting out the process. Local party branches and affiliated organisations – trade unions, the Co-op Party – have to meet before 4 December to consider an ‘affirmative nomination’. The borough-wide result will be announced the next day.

The clear intention is that Sir Robin Wales will be re-selected unopposed via this so-called ‘trigger ballot’. Only if a majority of branches vote No will there be an opportunity for other candidates to put themselves forward.

But why the hurry? The election is more than 18 months away and Newham is rock-solid Labour. There’s no disadvantage to the party in taking a bit more time to select its candidate.

Perhaps there’s a clue in Cllr Murphy’s email. In it he also announced the freeze date – October 25th. Only members who have been in the party for six full months prior to this date are able to participate in the vote. So all those new, enthusiastic members inspired by Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign who joined over the summer are bang out of luck. 

And it’s certainly no coincidence that the person in charge of the process – Cllr Murphy – is a member of the mayor’s inner circle. He’s on the payroll as ‘community lead councillor’ for Royal Docks and has a personal interest in getting his man into position ASAP. Indeed he is so keen that he has already been out door-knocking unsuspecting party members to canvass support for the incumbent. In any sensible organisation his role as Procedures Secretary would be untenable. 

But maybe – just maybe – this time Sir Robin won’t get things all his own way.

A group of local activists has launched a campaign called Trigger Democracy, calling on local members to vote No to the affirmative nomination and trigger an open selection.

They point out that Wales has been running Newham since 1995 – first as leader of the council and then from 2002 as the directly elected mayor. Only once in all that time has he faced a contested vote among party members. In 2002 he defeated John Saunders for the very first nomination. A lot has changed in Newham and the Labour party in the past 14 years!

Of course an open selection does not necessarily mean the end of Sir Robin. He might prove to be the best possible candidate and if so members could re-select him. But the very least that the party should do is give themselves a choice. Surely among the 60 councillors there are a few who have the ambition and vision to offer an alternative. Or maybe there is a credible candidate in another role?

I’m not in the Labour party – I left more than 10 years ago – but I urge all those who are to vote No. Give yourselves – and the rest of us – a chance to debate an alternative vision for Newham’s future.

There’s more information on the Trigger Democracy campaign on the web, on Twitter and on Facebook.


8 Responses to “Trigger democracy”

  1. Ken Taylor October 31, 2016 at 21:11 #

    Superb post Martin. It is about time that Labour members in Newham had a choice about who should be their candidate. He has been in power far too long and we need an open ballet. Eligible members only have to turn up at a local meeting for 30 minutes to vote and get rid of someone who openly boasted to Councillors that he would turn Newham into a “Corbyn free zone” then cowardly ducked the issue when he realised it would harm his re-election. Left and right are uniting to get rid of him.

    • Down to Earth November 1, 2016 at 00:11 #

      Nothing unusual about a Labour Party trigger ballot. Sitting MPs go through the same: Do you want the same person to be candidate again, or consider others as well?
      This timetable is so tight that some of the 20 Labour Branches will have difficulty in meeting on their normal day of the month. Oh, and the affiliates don’t have to meet. In some Unions a District or national committee will almost always vote for the incumbent.

  2. Belinda Grey November 1, 2016 at 06:26 #

    Down to earth you sound like a cronie on the payroll, the incumbent has lost the plot, why has he being knocking members doors with promises of making them councillors if they vote in his favor and playing tribal politics.
    This is to all those who dream of becoming councillors it anit happing the incumbent is no longer in control of the LCF(the body that chooses local councillors), so has no say on the matter the LCF will decide who becomes councillor for Newham NOT ROBIN WALES.

    • Down to Earth November 10, 2016 at 12:30 #

      Neither crony nor on the payroll.
      Just contributing some information from experience.
      You’re misinformed about Labour’s Newham Local Campaign Forum. It’s always been controlled by “command and control” people.

  3. The Real Thing. November 1, 2016 at 09:05 #

    The members in East Ham need to ask why they have had no ward meetings in the last two year or any AGMs, now they have to cram all this in one month. Robin is running scared another 4 years of Wales will mean More stealth taxes(RPZ without consulting residents) on residents, More council housing being sold to his cronies LOOK UP NEWSHARE CLLR FORHAD HUSSAIN, more gentrification of Newham. THIS GUY IS RUNNING SCARED MEMBERS VOTE FOR DEMOCRACY.

  4. d November 2, 2016 at 22:46 #

    See this as a display of how desparate wales is, growing unpopular within the newham labour, falling personal vote and chaos at building 1000.

  5. terry ball November 2, 2016 at 23:09 #

    it all sounds like the end of a regime to me ,everyone in the council stitching each other up for there own ends .all wannabe mayors and mp’s ,wales can only blame himself having cronies bleeding the public purse and not a care about the people who innocently voted them in .this is a comedy not as good as fools and horses but very close .

  6. Ejaz Malik November 3, 2016 at 14:24 #

    Totally agree, I think it’s about time, we put end to Mayor Robin Wales, automatic “Sole nomination” for Newham Labour Mayoral candidacy.
    Let him enjoy Retirement, maybe he
    can then have time to “detox” on bottle or two of “Peckham Spring” water! 🙂

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