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Blokes get the boot in Labour land: Part Two
THE last time Worcester Labour Party tried an all-women shortlist it blew up in their faces – but now they’re at it again. Alas, the old adage that people should be selected in politics on merit alone is being torn up once more, and this time around it could get just as nasty.
Worcestershire County Council’s Nunnery ward, which was once a Labour stronghold before it turned Tory in 2009, is considered one of the most important seats in next year’s local elections.
You’d think Labour, with just four councillors at County Hall, would be pulling out all the stops to open up their candidacy to people of both sexes.
But the powers-that-be have gone for an all-women option.
Pat Agar, the current deputy mayor of Worcester and a city councillor in Nunnery, is up against Lynn Denham, a fellow party councillor in Cathedral.
Word has reached the Source about a lingering sense of unease over the move.
As one former member puts it: “I think it’s a terrible idea – and it’s discriminatory.”
Senior sources say the decision was taken by the National Executive Committee, a body which governs the party at armslength.
“Fortunately, it’s the only county council ward where we’ve been told to do it,” he said.
Last time this was done in Worcester, when the party was selecting a parliamentary candidate for the next general election it led to two resignations, recriminations and bile. City councillor Marc Bayliss resigned in fury, saying he “fundamentally disagreed” with the policy, before joining the Tories two months later, rising to become chief attack-dog.
To rub salt into the wounds David Barlow, a former city council leader, then quit his membership after 30 long years, saying the winner Joy Squires was “not good enough” and the party was “no longer socialist”.
Just about enough spilt blood to rescue a failing hospital ward then. So who will the casualties be this time round?