Thursday, 1 April 2010

EXCLUSIVE: Stoke Central Re-Opens Nominations!

Just when you thought there couldn't be any more twists to the Stoke Central general election saga, here comes this 11th hour bombshell from Daisy Prafollo of the NEC. In an email sent to Labour party members in the early hours of this morning it says:

* Today's selection meeting has been called off.
* The suspension of Stoke Central CLP has been lifted.
* Applications for consideration are once again open.
* A 'long shortlist' of eight will be drawn up by the elected officers of the CLP.
* This list will be voted on following an expanded hustings.

Assuming the election is called on the sixth, we'll
still be without a candidate until mid-way through the campaign. If only the powers that be had gone down this route to begin with it would have saved a lot of frustration and bad feeling. Will they ever learn?

Here's Daisy's letter:
Dear Colleague

Stoke Central CLP Selection Meeting scheduled for Thursday 1st April is Postponed

Last night (31st March) members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) met in emergency session after reports were received from the NEC Organisation Committee and the Senior Constitutional Officer regards the selection process in Stoke Central Constituency Labour Party (CLP). The NEC noted the selection process used to long list and shortlist Labour's Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) has exacerbated divisions in the CLP, gives the appearance of an imposition, and could damage the Party's standing in all of Stoke and North Staffordshire.

Members are Labour's lifeblood. Up and down the country they undertake inspirational work at weekends and in the evenings to get Labour candidates elected. Confidence in candidates and the processes that select them are vital. Members need to feel they have a real stake in our success!

Therefore the NEC has resolved the following:

1) The suspension of Stoke Central CLP, enacted on Saturday 13th March, is lifted with immediate effect. The administrative suspension of several of its officers is also lifted. Other sanctions remain in place.
2) The PPC selection meeting due to take place on Thursday 1st April has been postponed.
3) Nominations for the position of PPC are re-opened. Previous applicants may apply.

The NEC also resolved:

1) The officers of Stoke Central CLP will draw up a shortlist of no more than eight names. The truncated electoral timetable leaves no time for long listing.
2) Shortlisted candidates will face an extended hustings meeting.

Furthermore, the NEC decided:

To encourage as wide a participation as possible, colleagues with more than six month's membership can vote for their preferred candidate by telephone, post, email, Facebook or Twitter.

On behalf of the NEC I do apologise for the inconvenience. But it feels strongly we have to take lay democracy in the Party very seriously. We need trust in our ideas and our Party if we are to win a Future Fair for All.

Thank you for your continued support,

Daisy Prafollo
Junior Constitutional Officer


April Fool spotter said...

April Fool

Anonymous said...

If this is an April Fool, then its not a very funny one, it almost gave me heart failure.

Phil said...

Ok, so yeah, it as an April Fools. Did anyone really fall for it?

catherine buca said...

Aw, you didn't get as many comments as usual, Phil. Perhaps you've lost your touch. :(

adam said...

Very nice

daisy prafollo = april fools day

tbh until i saw the name i had to thnk about it

Simon said...

Had me there for a second.

Gary Elsby said...

Did anyone fall for it?
Ask the Regional Director.
You may be suspended before your validation is accepted.
Now that WOULD be a first!
I think you made NEWSNIGHT tonight at 10:30pm.

Jim Jepps said...

I *enjoyed* it - but I came here to find out what April Fool post you'd written so it would have had to be amazing to fool me...

However did you see this article about Stoke? Sadly not a fool

Phil said...

I almost didn't do an April Fools this year - the selection has been so ridiculous that I didn't think I would be able to pull off anything as farcical.

Phil said...

Link doesn't work, Jim. Strangely it looks like it's been taken down.

Jim Jepps said...

part 2...

I left New York two years ago. Coincidentally, my old New York friend Peter Gerry, whose antecedent, the US vice president Elbridge Gerry, famously put the "gerry" into "gerrymandering", by rigging the New York state electoral boundaries a couple of hundred years back, would take his hat off to Mandelson and those who went along with the fixing of Stoke. Party insiders claim that Harriet Harman played a role too, in return for Mandelson's support for one or two of her favoured sisters in the last-minute flurry of resignations to come. She was supposed to be part of the NEC's "special selections" panel, but didn't make the meeting.

Stoke-on-Trent has of course been Labour for almost as long as anyone can remember, returning three MPs at the last election. But as Newsnight's Paul Mason incisively reported a few evenings ago, the city is a classic example of all that went wrong for traditional industries and working people during the Thatcher years, while the sticking plaster of the Blair years is beginning to peel. Very few skilled, relatively well-paid jobs followed the closure of the pits and the potteries, and the disastrous attempt to install directly elected mayors in the city was local Stoke Labour's undoing – ably assisted by some asinine interventions by the party's Midlands region to discipline members for not wanting one in the first place. It is hardly surprising that the BNP are on the march in Stoke – a dark portent of what may come in similar towns that are increasingly coming to resemble the rotten boroughs of old.

And Stoke is beginning to follow in a line of grim local political fixes – both major parties are at it. If one were cynical, it might also be possible to discern another pattern – of the old discredited political class replicating themselves. Even if the Stokies don't rebel at tomorrow night's hustings, and they find themselves with the candidate ordained by his lordship, the real battle, to halt the BNP, will have to be joined – hopefully by people of all parties and, increasingly, those of none.

Jim Jepps said...

The wonders of internet caches...
Mark Seddon

With the BNP on the march in Stoke-on-Trent, why has Lord Mandelson parachuted in his chosen Labour candidate?

When New Labour was in its pomp and Peter Mandelson memorably remarked that those Labour supporters who didn't much like the new order would still back Labour because they "would have nowhere else to go", I wonder if he had the good city of Stoke-on-Trent in mind?

Somehow, I doubt it, for in recent years many working-class Labour voters in Stoke have been going somewhere else – notably to the British National party. Before a local defection yesterday, the BNP had eight councillors. Ten years ago, Labour held the city with 60 councillors. Today there are barely 13 – and only two of them in the cauldron that is the Stoke Central constituency.

Now, with an election barely weeks away, the BNP are standing their deputy leader, Simon Darby, in the constituency. Flush with European parliament money and smarter in his campaign techniques, the city is a key target for Darby, who not so long ago was pictured taking the fascist salute in Italy.

So what has been Labour's answer to the serried ranks of the far right? Why, it has been to hand them a gift they can only have dreamed of – a gerrymandered selection of a new Labour candidate. For when the respected local MP, Mark Fisher, decided to step down on health grounds a few weeks ago, instead of drawing up a broad-based list of candidates for local Labour members to choose from, Lord Mandelson, ever the plutocrat, simply made the choice for them.

I doubt that Mandelson's chosen son, Tristram Hunt, will much thank him for this. Indeed the poor fellow has publicly pronounced his regret that tomorrow night's hustings in the city will comprise him, and two other outsiders no one in the city has ever heard of. I think he is genuine. Labour's NEC panel did what was asked of it. There are no locals on the list, no women and the trade union frontrunner, Byron Taylor, mysteriously didn't make it onto the final shortlist. I should declare an interest. Against my better judgment, and believing that somehow things had miraculously changed in the post-Blair era, I applied. I was rejected on the grounds that "Since he is/has been working in New York, he cannot be seen as local".


redmetalgeek said...

See, everything suffers when you join the Labour Party. Even your April Fool's jokes!

It was decent, but like Jim Jepps, I came to your blog this afternoon specifically to see what you had come up with for this year. So I am glad you did something, even though I don't think it's quite up to par with some of your previous stuff.

While I'm between blogs right now, I decided to get in on the April Fool's Day fun as well, except this time on RevLeft. Unfortunately, all I seem to be doing is proving that many leftists have no sense of humour:

Phil said...

I guess you've got to be in it to get it. I've received some hearty congratulations today.

But I do take your point, this blog has suffered this last fortnight because almost everything I've written about has had to do with Stoke Labour. I felt that it had to be covered, but I am fed up of writing about it. There's a couple more posts on Labour to come but that will be it for a while, I promise!

Phil said...

Cheers for the article, Jim. I might knock something up for CIF replying to it.