“Our greatest campaigning asset is our network of committed staff, members and activists”. In conclusion, he declared that “The selections for Labour candidates needs to be more democratic and we should end NEC impositions of candidates. Local Party members should select their candidates for every election”. No disagreement there.
Anna Rothery - Liverpool's first black Lord Mayor
After all, he will be all too aware of what has happened in the past, notably under Tony Blair’s leadership. The attempt to fix the London Mayoralty for Frank Dobson, who may not have really wanted the job, was scuppered when Ken Livingstone stood as an independent and won. Tone and his pals also didn’t emerge too well from what looked like attempts to prevent Rhodri Morgan leading Labour in the Welsh Assembly.
So what happened yesterday in Liverpool should have been off limits for Starmer’s Labour Party. An all-female shortlist for the City’s Mayor, to replace Joe Anderson, including probable favourite Anna Rothery, who was backed by several MPs, one other city Mayor, academics, activists, business people and three Trades Unions, was cast aside.
No reason was given. Nor was any reason given for the follow-up decree: that none of the three would be invited to reapply. Opposition parties, normally relegated to also-ran status on Merseyside, and already scenting a potential upset after Anderson’s effectively forced withdrawal, are now in full cry. As are many local Labour members.
The BBC has reported “The Labour Party has scrapped its list of candidates to stand in Liverpool's mayoral election in May … Three women councillors had been shortlisted to replace Joe Anderson, with ballot papers due to be sent to members … Last week, the party announced it was ‘pausing’ the selection process and delayed sending out the ballots … No explanation has yet been given for the decision”. And it got worse.
Liam Thorp at the Liverpool Echo, which has reported all manner of Labour shenanigans over the years, observed “it goes without saying really that this is a total and utter mess from the Labour Party who have handled things appallingly … Whatever the situation and we don't know exactly what it is (mainly because they won't say), this is no way to treat people … But it’s also no way to treat the party members in the city who have been left confused and angry and with no explanations”. And worse still.
Nominations will close tomorrow, which suggests someone has been lined up - in other words, a centrally-imposed stitch-up. With party membership in freefall, many activists disenchanted, and Liverpool one of the few parts of the country to remain a Labour stronghold, what would have been the sensible thing to do? What would the Keir Starmer of February last year have done? What would Nietzsche have done?
Small wonder Ms Rothery and her supporters have smelt a rat, and are considering legal action. A control freak Labour Party didn’t work in the past. And it won’t work now.
Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by adding to its Just Giving page at