EXCL Labour bosses accused of stitching-up candidate selection in 'Gang Of Seven' seats
Labour bosses have been accused of trying to stitch up the process to replace seven MPs who quit the party yesterday.
PoliticsHome has learned from three separate sources that chairs and secretaries in the local Labour branches concerned have been blocked from accessing an online list of member contact details.
That means they will rely on Labour central office to get in touch wth local supporters about selection meetings and procedures, as well as information about the hopefuls for the candidacy.
The revelation came as Labour chairman Ian Lavery emailed members in the seven constituencies to tell them that the process for choosing new candidates will begin next week.
One Labour MP said: "They’re clearly trying to stitch up selections."
Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Mike Gapes, Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith and Ann Coffey all quit the party yesterday in protest at its direction under Jeremy Corbyn.
In his email to local members in Mr Umunna's Streatham constituency, Mr Lavery said: “As the 2017 election showed us, when we are united, when we have the policies that resonate with the electorate, we are at our strongest.
“That’s why next week we will begin the process of selecting a new candidate, someone who will fight for Labour’s ideals on behalf of all the people of Streatham.”
A Labour MP told PoliticsHome: “Constituency officers should not be locked out of contacting their members, especially at a volatile time like this.
“They’re clearly trying to stitch up selections. This isn’t the new politics we were promised - just old fashioned machine politics.”
A Labour source said party bosses emailed most of the seven CLP chairs yesterday calling for by-elections.
The party failed to comment on the claims of a stitch-up by the time of publication.
When by-elections are called it is not unusual for the central party to take control of the candidate selection process, but usually the local parties would elect a committee to decide who is chosen.
The seven MPs who quit the party yesterday have said they have no plans to call by-elections in their seats, despite calls to do so by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and others at the top of the party.