A source close to me reports back on a very interesting and slightly arbitrarily-chaired Harborne ward selection meeting on Thursday the 3rd August (when are Labour Party meetings ever held in August for goodness sake?) – attended by a paltry 14 out of probably a couple of hundred of eligible members.
Of the five candidates available to choose from for the two-member ward only three attended – it transpires that the other two were not contacted before the meeting and as they don’t live in the ward would have had no idea when and where the meeting would be unless they had been told.
This is a touch odd, and does raise a question about the legitimacy of the meeting from the outset.
There were two ‘successful’ candidates – Jayne Francis and Sundip Meghani.
Jayne won the women’s slot unopposed – well done to her. She is, we hear, a popular and well-respected local councillor, but it’s noteworthy that there were at least 4 women who had expressed an interest in the ward who have applied to be on the panel but not had an interview or approval yet – despite promises being made at Birmingham Board and NEC level that women applicants would be fast-tracked……… these promises appear not to have been kept.
Sundip, the other ‘successful’ candidate, is a very interesting chap indeed.
- He supports the reintroduction of the death penalty. He apparently made no mention of this at the meeting despite it being liable to be of interest to members. The fact that the Liberal Democrats are able to criticise him from the left about it – a touch worrying.
- He appears to be against All Women Shortlists. Again, my understanding is that he didn’t mention this at the meeting – which had an AWS for one of the two slots.
- He is also rather anti-Corbyn.
More tellingly, his ‘activity diary’ is intriguingly bereft of much……activity.
For the uninitiated – an ‘activity diary’ is something that would-be councillors in Birmingham have to produce when they apply to show that they have worked hard over the last couple of years in support of the party – in theory it should exclude shysters and reward hard-working activists. In theory being the operative words here.
Sundip appears to have been initially turned down, managed to reverse the decision just in time for the Harborne meeting and got on the panel with an activity diary far emptier than people who have been turned down…. for having undertaken insufficient activity.
A lack of activity in and of itself isn’t a reason to exclude him – if he’s a good candidate he’s a good candidate. But when so many other applicants have been blocked because of insufficient activity it does appear that there is a serious inconsistency.
And despite repeated written and verbal requests to the CLP chair for conformation that Sundip’s expression of interest in the ward was submitted in time no evidence of the email exists and the chair is refusing to confirm whether he has received an email that he should, as chair, have received:
“HARBORNE: 2 vacancies, at least one woman to be selected – expressions of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com by 5.00 p.m. on Tuesday 1 August 2017.”