Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Dark Deeds in Erith and Thamesmead

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 17th April, 2009

Today’s (Saturday’s) hustings to choose the prospective Labour Party candidate for the London parliamentary constituency of Erith and Thamesmead has been postponed, after it was discovered that the seal on the ballot box containing postal ballots received from constituency party members had apparently been tampered with. The sitting Labour MP, John Austin. who is standing down at the next election, had already complained formally to the Labour Party’s national General Secretary, Ray Collins, over alleged breaches of the rules concerning the signing up of people for postal votes in the hotly-contested selection. Supporters of 22-year-old Georgia Gould — daughter of Lord (Philip) Gould, a pollster and key aide to Tony Blair when he was Prime Minister — are said to have been going round persuading members to vote by post. Several powerful figures within the Labour Party, even at Cabinet level, have made it clear that they favour Miss Gould’s selection. But Westminister is awash with rumours that while the Blairites are rooting for her, some of the Brownites are opposed. 

The seven other hopefuls on the shortlist for Erith and Thamesmead, which includes present or former councillors from Bexley, Greenwich and Kensington & Chelsea, as well as an official from the union Unite, are understandably annoyed at what they consider to be improper interference in the selection process. One has to ask: what on earth is happening to the Labour Party, at both the national and local level? Dirty tricks and apparent underhand tactics seem to have become par for the course, doing inestimable damage amongst rank-and-file Labour members and voters. With this latest suspicion of chicanery, one doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

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