IN A dramatic about turn, Newham’s directly elected Mayor, Sir Robin Wales, has called for an “open selection” ballot to choose the Labour Party candidate in May’s election.
This comes more than a year after party members challenged the result of a “trigger ballot” which confirmed Wales, Mayor since 2002, as the candidate.
In that ballot, branches voted 11 – 9 not to affirm Wales’ candidacy, but affiliated organisations tipped the vote in his favour, 20 – 17. However, it was then discovered that some organisations were not actually affiliated, but their votes had been accepted.
Requests for the party to set aside the result and hold an open selection were first ignored and then rejected, forcing members to threaten, and then initiate, a legal challenge to the party’s acceptance of the flawed result.
The party’s London region tried to ignore that as well, thinking members would eventually drop the challenge – but they didn’t. Three days before Christmas, as court action was about to begin, officials finally agreed to hold another trigger ballot. Wales endorsed that at first, until it became clear he would probably lose – calling for an open selection now is little more than an attempt to save face.