We should all be absolutely clear. Metro-mayor in the city-region is a new post. Any Labour Party member who is qualified may stand for Labour’s nomination – it belongs to no-one. Anybody who thinks differently is living in the past. Free and unfettered electoral choice is what democracy is all about. Labour Party members across six boroughs will decide who the nominee will be, not some self-seeking cabal, wishing to impose their views on the rest of the party.
Already there are those seeking to use dirty tricks in their determination to deny members a fair go. I am told that one possible candidate has been told that she cannot attend a meeting to which she had been invited as a speaker. This is because she may be a candidate for the nomination; but apparently the Liverpool mayor can attend the same event!
It is a long time since we have seen these machinations taking place in our local politics. However, it appears that the Liverpool Council Labour group has agreed to fund out of group funds, the Liverpool mayor’s campaign to be nominee. Perhaps they are eager to kick him upstairs, or at least out of their way. It remains an outrageous decision which could well poison relations between a future metro-mayor and combined authority, and a group within Liverpool City Council without either the sense or the backbone to stay out of a constitutional selection of a Labour candidate.
Those who are trying to skew what ought to be a fair and open contest will be in for a shock. The party will not tolerate attempts to prejudice the democratic choice of city-region members. Whilst it is certainly possible to pressurise a narrow number of colleagues with positions to protect, heavy handed attempts to force one candidate on 10,000 members across the city-region just will not wash.
Forced endorsements, or compulsory attendance at one candidate’s events, will fool no-one. Yet already people are fearful of what may eventuate for those who fail to support the “right” ticket. They should rest assured that no-one should be afraid to honestly express their view on who would best represent the interests of all of the people of the city-region. The idea that an unrepresentative clique should gainsay the opinion of the wider membership is simply intolerable.