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Labour members and councillors call for Newham mayoral trigger ballot inquiry

PUBLISHED: 16:33 24 January 2017 | UPDATED: 10:02 24 October 2017

Newham mayor Sir Robin Wales

Newham mayor Sir Robin Wales

Newham Council

Nearly 50 Labour party members have called for their governing body to launch a “full inquiry” into the results of the Newham mayoral trigger ballot.

A 13-page letter signed by 47 members of the East Ham and West Ham Consituency Labour Parties, including ten councillors, was sent to the National Executive Committee (NEC) ahead of its meeting this afternoon.

It raises concerns about “failures of process/propriety and procedural irregularities” in the affirmative nomination process which resulted in Sir Robin Wales being reselected as the Labour candidate for the 2018 Mayor of Newham elections on December 5.

An extract from the letter states: “We are Labour Party members who are appalled and concerned by the breaches of the rules and conflicts of interest that have characterised the process so far.”

Sir Robin’s win was determined by the support of affiliated organisations which voted 11 to 6 in favour of keeping him, despite 11 out of 20 wards voting for an open selection process which would have allowed other candidates to stand.

Dissatisfied Labour party members have highlighted issues which “could potentially change the outcome of the process”, focusing on “three major failings” of the trigger ballot nomination process.

The first of these is that “some trade unions have voted more than once for each one of their affiliated branches. Other trade unions have voted only once” therefore resulting in a “different interpretation” of the rules.

Accusations of “significant breaches of the rules in individual ballots” and a “serious conflict of interest between the different roles of those charged with the management of the process” are also outlined in the letter.

Rohit K Dasgupta, the newly-appointed Newham Fabians Secretary – one of the affliated organisations to vote “yes” for Sir Robin’s automatic re-selection – recently told the Recorder that “Andrew Harrop [general secretary of the Fabian society] advised members at a Newham Fabians meeting [Jan 11] that the Fabian Society’s General Purposes Committee is presently looking into the issues raised by the recent trigger ballot process in Newham”.

Further questions have also been raised about the voting procedures of the other participating socialist societies and unions with calls for several of the ballots cast to “be declared void” or “held in abeyance and not counted”.

The letter’s signatories further state that if the alleged breaches “are allowed to stand unchanged by the national party, it will turn off our membership and stifle the ongoing community renewal that Newham so desperately needs, leading to widespread disillusionment about the way the local party operates”.

A London Labour Party spokesman said: “The Labour Party does not comment on internal selections but the process in Newham was carried out in line with established rules and procedures.

“The NEC is responsible for ensuring that Labour Party processes are fair, and procedures are constantly kept under review.”

He would not comment on whether NEC has received the letter or whether it will address the accusations made.

A spokesman for Sir Robin Wales has not yet replied to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, a campaign website called democracytriggered.org has been set up to “advance democracy and accountability in the Labour Party in Newham”.

It is inspired by the Trigger Democracy campaign which ran during the mayoral ballot process from October 26 to December 4.

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