What game is Jim Fitzpatrick playing over the London Mayoral selection?

Jim Fitzpatrick MP, who chairs  Oona King’s campaign to be London Mayor, has written a strange letter to Ray Collins, General Secretary of the Labour Party.

Why is it strange?

He claims the process for selecting the London Mayor “fails the  fairness and openness tests” and then proposes tinkering with the electoral college process in ways that will make it less open and less fair – presumably believing that doing so will favour his preferred candidate.

He objects to the procedure laid down by the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party whereby there is to be an electoral college with 50% of the votes being decided by the individual votes of Party members in London and with the other 50% being determined by the votes of the members of trade unions and other organisations affiliated to the London Labour Party.

He seems to think that this process is new and untried – even though it is the same process used the last time there was a contested selection process for Labour’s Mayoral candidate in the run up to the 2004 elections.

So what is he proposing instead?

He has two options.  The first is simply to disenfranchise the members of trade unions and other affiliated organisations – even though all those members pay a political levy contribution to the Labour Party.  That is hardly very open and fair, is it?

So he offers an alternative – a “tri-partite” electoral college.

Now we had one of those before – in the selection of Labour’s candidate for the first Mayoral elections in 2000.  And that process was widely derided as being a stitch-up.  I remember it well.  The third section of  the electoral college comprised London Labour MPs and the 25 selected candidates for the London Assembly (even though some of them stood no chance of being on the Assembly unless Labour achieved 96% of the vote in the eventual elections).  I remember the embarrassment, as a London Assembly candidate, of having one of those gold-plated votes – worth the equivalent of the votes of a thousand Party members and several thousand affiliated members of the Party.  It was certainly neither open nor fair.

In so far as I understand Jim Fitzpatrick’s argument, it is that in the election of Party Leader there is a tri-partite college – with a section for MPs.  There is a good reason for that:  the House of Commons is the battleground in which the Party Leader has to operate, whether as Prime Minister or Leader of the Opposition, and Labour MPs should have a direct say in who should lead them as well as the wider Party.

So, if there were a tri-partite electoral college for the Mayoral selection, who would be in the third section?  The only logical answer would be the eight Labour members of the London Assembly.  Now they are all excellent people, but this wouldn’t just be giving them a gold-plated vote, it would be giving them a platinum-plated vote – more than 4% of the electoral college each.  And I don’t think many people would regard that as open and fair.

No doubt, Jim Fitzpatrick would like to give London MPs a platinum vote as well.  But why do they have a more legitimate remit than, say, Labour Council Leaders or indeed all Labour councillors in London.  It all begins to look like a return to the bad old days of manipulation and skullduggery.

And Jim ought to remember all that – he used to be Chair of the London Labour Party.

And actually Jim, the London Labour Party has now grown out of all that.

15 thoughts on “What game is Jim Fitzpatrick playing over the London Mayoral selection?”

  1. I will confess my lack of interest i Labour (a party that sold out) and the Mayor of London (a city in another country) but Baron de Q above mentioned the Standard. Same as owned by A.Y.Lebedev? The same as own the Indy? Same Indy that has started censoring protest? Just checking.

  2. One can obtain one’s censorship on the ToryGuardian to greater angst I have found.

  3. It is not the Tories who run the Grauniad but the Feminazis. You know, Caroline Flint (ZaNuLabour) who thinks false rape allegations are OK.

  4. Wasn’t Caro Flint who ran me out of my seat on the Scott Trust Board, but the Dully Teles, later supported by the National Liberals and Tories.

    You’d find more support for the BNP on the Guardint than for legitimate pro Gordon Brown Labour voting opinion.

  5. Toby

    Read the letter -the options proposed are straight OMOV (my preference) or a 3 way college
    The political challenge is an honest debate as to whether Ken is the best person to win the mayoralty back for Labour ?
    Don’t you appreciate that in 2008 Ken hacked off too many natural Labour voters.

  6. Neil, I have read the letter! It is a fact that OMOV would disenfranchise the individual political levy payers. The alternative Jim offers is indeed a 3 way college, but he doesn’t specify what the third part of the college would look like. I can conceive of a case (but reject it) for that third part consisting of Labour Assembly Members, but anything else has little logic and is likely to reek (rightly or wrongly) of being an attempt to fix the result. Another stitch up would certainly alienate Labour voters.
    As to the 2008 result, the Labour vote went up, but the Conservative vote went up by more (surging particularly in places like Bromley). There are important political lessons there, but there is little psephological evidence that a critical factor was core Labour disaffection with Ken.

  7. Tory matrons turned out for Bojo in the donut.

    I voted at 7am and was accompanied with one such who had no idea where the polling station was.

    They had all sorts of ideas, including that Johnson would make a fine dinner party guest. They’d not heard of Lord Wyatt’s daughter.

  8. Oh, and knocking up in a N London Labour area it was notable that cars were the key: people cited their parking offences, and Ken’s perceived anti car role cost more votes than anything else.

  9. TOBY,

    your point and its logic is right
    but we need to think about a fairer system that produce fairness.
    If Ken is going to back again means digging the graveyard and labour has nothing to offer that what poeple rejected in 2008.
    Oona King, definitely a face that reflecting the values of new labour

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