Further to my complaint in my recent letter about sexist shortlists for Calderdale candidatures being imposed from down our valley upon Todmorden Labour Party, I grieve that one is now being pushed on us by the party machine in a way that is clearly unacceptable, in spite of pleas and warnings to desist.
On December 14 I received a circular from Calderdale Local Government Committee (LGC) chairman Mr Naeem, of Halifax, inviting as a Party member to shortlisting and selection meetings for Todmorden ward’s candidature next May, to be held in a Knowle Street venue on December 19 and January 7.
These dates had not been agreed by the Todmorden branch and there is no Knowle Street in Todmorden!
The circular states that “the shortlist must be made up of women already interviewed and approved”, yet an aspirant from among our members who applied in good time still awaited interview.
I replied to Mr Naeem accordingly, with a copy to Coun Anne Collins (who is stated as chairing the meeting “on behalf of the LGC”, whereas selections during my 28 years as branch member have been conducted by branch officers, with an LGC observer welcomed as our guest).
I alleged inadequate notice, adding that since there is no Knowle Street in Todmorden the meetings are not properly convened, and if held would be invalid.
No response has reached me and I hear that shortlisiting is reported to have taken place at a venue that must, if the report is true, have been “bush-telegraphed”.
Democracy entails that Todmorden representatives shall be chosen by Todmorden people without dictation from the outside.
When I retired to the town in 1984 I found the finest local Labour Party in all my then 37 years of membership.
We went from strength to strength, increasing our Parliamentary vote by 31.4 per cent from 1983 to 1987, and our Calderdale vote to an amazing 2,563 in 1990.
Alas, the branch was ruptured when the national party imposed an all-female shortlist for the 1997 General Election.
Happily, Chris McCafferty proved a popular MP, yet further outside influences on selections have continued from people who presume to tell us whom we may run.
We are not a “rotten borough” like those who whose MPs were distant grandees’ placemen before the Reform Act of 1832.
For the sake of Ed Miliband and our Parliamentary candidate Josh Fenton-Glyn, I call on the LGC to push off and give real local democracy its due opportunity (I, at 86, am not myself an aspirant!)
Coun Frank McManus
Todmorden Town Council