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Labour ‘fury’ as Huntingdonshire members excluded from election candidate choice

Labour choice for St Neots ‘incredibly undemocratic’

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A Labour activist described the selection of London councillor Marianne Masters as the Parliamentary candidate for St Neots and Mid Cambridgeshire as “at the very least a grotesque abandonment of procedure for the local party to have literally no say in the candidate they will be campaigning for”.

The party activist, who has asked CambsNews not to reveal their identity “since I am worried about being thrown out of my party for talking to you” says the decision to by-pass local selection has outraged Labour Party members.

“There were no hustings and no chance at any point to even meet Marianna or for members to have a say in whether or not she should be the candidate,” said the activist.

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“And let’s not forget it is we, as local people, who will be expected to campaign for her.”

Local party members were among those included in a ‘round robin’ call by Labour late last year to find a candidate for the newly created constituency.

Many local and experienced Labour Party members submitted an online application form and waited to hear about the selection process.

“It would appear the local democratic search and process was effectively suspended, and the candidate entirely selected by the executive,” said the activist.

Marianna Masters with London Mayor Sadiq Khan

Cllr Marianna Masters with London Mayor Sadiq Khan

Unsuccessful applicants all got an email on Tuesday from Labour East headquarters telling them “we are pleased to announce Marianne Masters has been selected as Parliamentary candidate”.

The activist said: “That is how we all found it. At the very least it is a grotesque abandonment of procedure for the local party to have literally no say in the candidate they will be campaigning for.

“There should have been hustings, discussions prior to selection, and a vote; instead, all we received was this dictat from central office. It has caused fury.

“I/we have nothing personal against her, but I have a few questions since she is a member of Christians on the Left.

“We would like to have quizzed on her gay marriage and abortions, which are religiously controversial, but we had no opportunity, and we certainly had no opportunity to support her or otherwise as a candidate.

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“Central office is neglecting this area and that could cost us the election.

“It is a great betrayal to the people of this area if we do not put up the best fight we can to prevent more Tory control in this area – there needs to be a strong contest.

“This decision has done huge damage to enfranchisement of the local party, and I cannot speak for others, but I feel like I have been treated like a mindless foot soldier rather than as a member of a political party.

“It would be naïve to think this has not happened elsewhere, but I am only concerned about St Neots and Mid Cambridgeshire. This is all incredibly undemocratic.

“Did she go through the same hoops as us or was there a little meeting in a hotel bar and the words St Neots came up and the rest is history?”

Labour, announcing the selection on Tuesday, said: “Marianna is a councillor and has plenty of experience at a national and local level of leadership. She is the chair of the Fabian Society’s Fabian Women section.

“Currently a hospital governor, Marianna has campaigned locally and nationally on mental health, and this has made her aware of both health inequalities and racial injustice that affects so many people in our communities.”

Ms Masters added: “I’m delighted to be chosen to stand for Labour in St Neots and Mid Cambridgeshire.

“Whether living in the most rural parts of the constituency, or in our market town of St Neots or on the outskirts of Cambridge – people of all ages across St Neots and Mid Cambridgeshire have witnessed a decline in local services.

“On the doorsteps I hear about difficulties accessing GP appointments, reductions in local bus services and a lack of properly affordable housing in both towns and villages.

“Only a Labour government can deliver the change that St Neots and Mid Cambridgeshire needs. I will give voice to the people of this constituency, and I am delighted to advocate for a Labour government to restore hope and opportunity in this community.”

On X, Labour Party member Clare King of Cambridge tweeted: “You do realise the message it sends is that the constituency isn’t taken seriously by Labour?

“Imposing someone with zero knowledge or connection is a gift to the Tories. Frankly it’s irrelevant ‘who’ she is but clear it’s just a PPC (Prospective Parliamentary Candidate) training exercise.”

 

 

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