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MP shortlist selection could see local and national parties at odds
Cllr Terry Byron will be among those arguing the town’s next MP should be selected from an open process
IT is believed that the next MP to replace Shaun Woodward will be selected from an all-woman shortlist in line with national Labour Party policy.
This would however see them at odds with the local Constituency Labour Party (CLP), which would prefer it to be an open selection process.
A Labour insider said the St Helens South and Whiston CLP will meet today, when they will put forward their preferences before it is presented to the national executive committee (NEC).
In a bid to tackle apparent inequality in the Houses of Parliament and expand diversity among MPs the Labour Party implemented a policy to introduce an all-women shortlist.
One possible candidate for the town’s first ever female MP could be former council leader Marie Rimmer CBE, who failed to make the NEC’s shortlist when Woodward won the nomination in 2001.
The Labour Party member said the potential candidates may not live in St Helens but could have links with the town, adding: “Given it’s such a stable seat and the size of the majority it is expected there will be more than 100 applications.
“The reality is that St Helens struggles to get more women to come forward to even be councillors. Labour took a policy some time ago that they wanted a 50/50 representation in Parliament.”
Speaking about the pros and cons of the selection process which could see high profile names omitted if a candidate list was imposed, they added: “If you look at the last Parliamentary selections a large number of people were in their 20s. Some may ask do they have enough life experience?
“[Former Lib Dem leader] Menzies Campbell recently said that we need older people with real life experience.
“If the process was open you could see someone like Keir Starmer, the former director of public prosecutions, who is looking for a Labour seat. It would be difficult to argue against someone of his calibre.”
The chairman of St Helens South and Whiston CLP Cllr Terry Byron said they will make their recommendations but the final decision will be out of their hands.
He said: “In the end it’s the regional party that decides. We can just tell them our preferences.
“I would rather have an open shortlist, but I can guess where they would go. The difficulty is that you could have an outstanding male candidate who would be excluded.
“In my view the Labour Party should be open and democratic and get the best candidate. I would prefer a local working class candidate.”
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