Labour’s selection process is a farce
Here is my letter to Southwark News last week regarding the news that Labour’s Councillor for Faraday, Dan Garfield, has resigned; the third Labour Councillor to resign in the space on nine months.
To the Editor,
We are shocked that for the third time in less than nine months a Southwark Labour councillor, for various reasons, has left before completing a full term in office. Last week Southwark councillor Dan Garfield was convicted of beating his wife, a fellow Southwark Labour councillor. Mr Garfield, Labour’s chief whip, was sentenced to a 12-month community order and instructed to pay a fine and complete a programme of 40 days with the probation service.
In this most recent instance it was right that Mr Garfield resigned from the Council. This is, however, of little consolation to Southwark residents who will foot the bill for yet another costly by-election.
Labour pride themselves on their ‘rigorous selection process to ensure we [Labour] have the highest quality candidates’ but these frequent resignations prove that Southwark Labour is not vetting candidates properly and that their selection process is completely compromised. Labour has let down Southwark residents by allowing unfit and below par candidates to be put forward as their representatives.
Once again Southwark residents are faced with the consequences of yet another by-election. Those living in Faraday Ward can expect to be troubled and have their valuable time to be taken away from them in the coming weeks with more literature to read and countless canvassers disturbing them at their doors.
We can discourage councillors from reneging on their four year commitment by penalising them and their party when they trigger a needless by-election. First, the party, in this case Labour, not residents, should meet the cost of this by-election in its entirety instead of the council using taxpayers’ hard earned money. Second, councillors who prematurely end their term should also return the money that they have earned for the last 12 months through their councillorship to the ward they represent to compensate residents.
Councillors and their parties must recognise that this is a job akin to having a four year contract with the public, who they are directly accountable to. If they stand down during their term, they are dishonouring this contract. This is precisely the reason why voters are increasingly uninterested and disillusioned with the electoral process. Why should we bother voting for a candidate if they won’t finish a full term they committed to? Such penalties will act as a deterrent to others thinking of wasting taxpayers’ money and residents’ precious time.
Prem Goyal OBE JP, Leader of All People’s Party (www.allpeoplesparty.co.uk)