Fun times in Erith and Thamesmead
So Georgia Gould has failed to get selected to Erith and Thamesmead, for the present, as the selection process has been suspended. I don’t know if anyone has been following the storm in a tea cup, but apparently someone believed a ballot box had been tampered with and so called off the selection. Presumably the person in question was one of the centrally-delegated flunkeys, since the NEC took over control of the CLP last week, after all sorts of allegations began flying about regarding a corruption of the postal votes process.
I have a few thoughts. The first of which is this: presumably, since it’s not even 9am yet, the ballot box has no ballots inside it yet, since the final hustings won’t have been held? And secondly, if it has postal votes inside it, then surely these can be verified against the relatively small party membership of 250-odd people, rather than re-run the selection. Which leads me to thirdly; is there some other reason to call off the selection process? Media furore has been slowly building all week – from Guardian to Mail. How does this tie in?
Call me cynical, but I think the suspension is political, rather than a genuine administrative worry. There are two major factions by all accounts – Georgia Gould, endorsed by Alistair Campbell and one or two other arch-Blairites, and Rachel Maskell, apparently a ‘Brownite’, either of whom might gain from some added time to canvass / let accusations of nepotism die down. It is these accusations of nepotism which seem to be motivating the press – Gould is the 22 year old daughter of Lord Philip Gould.
Additionally, Gould has had a lot of professional PR from bbm, a firm run by Labour insiders, a firm which has also been interfering in Calder Valley, where my good friend and good socialist Susan Press came second in the selection process, behind a NuLab preference. Some of the support has been comedic, such as the release which put these words in Georgia’s mouth, “Virginia was one of the ‘swing’ states and although I can’t claim to have won it single-handedly for Obama…”
Nevertheless, presumably Georgia is happy to have a professional machine sew up the nomination for her rather than relying on her personality and politics. Well…her personality I can’t speak to since I didn’t spend much time socialising with the Oxford University Labour Club – but as for her politics, if she has any, she never demonstrated them. In fact I can wholly endorse whatever London Young Labour official said to the Guardian, “I can think of at least 20 young people who have been very active for years and they are not getting considered for a seat.”
The overriding message we get from bbm’s campaign for Georgia, 20-page glossy included, and from the NEC handling of selections generally is “Never say anything out of place, never utter a controversial sentiment and you’ll get selected. Be the drone you wish to see in the world.” I’m told the outgoing MP has written to his party members recommending four other candidates other than the top two, though the source for that is not the best – that’s how bad things are getting within Labour these days and I’m not sure I want to be part of it.