As part of the latest attack on party democracy, the Labour right wing have scrapped the shortlist to select the party’s candidate for Liverpool Mayor. Activists must fight back against this bureaucratic move. We say: Let the members decide!

As part of the latest attack on party democracy, the Labour right wing have scrapped the shortlist to select the party’s candidate for Liverpool Mayor. Activists must fight back against this bureaucratic move. We say: Let the members decide!

Labour activists and members of the community in Liverpool are in uproar over what has rightly been described as a stitch-up in the selection process to choose Labour’s candidate in the upcoming mayoral elections.

One local party member voiced the thoughts on everyone’s mind, saying: “This is about more than just a selection process. This is about an abuse of power and the democratic process. This is about injustice and suppression.”

Reflecting the anger amongst Labour members, a Twitter account called Scousers Against Starmer quickly recruited over 1100 followers in its first 10 hours.

Bureaucratic move

The saga began when the Liverpool Labour Party was prevented from drawing up a shortlist of candidates for the position of Mayor. Instead, this process was taken over by a panel consisting of NEC members and regional party officials.

Only three weeks later, however, and the three candidates shortlisted by this panel have been barred from standing.

Much of the anger has centred around the removal of Anna Rothery from the shortlist. At the start of the campaign, Rothery was seen as the outsider. But she gathered significant support due to her call for the whip to be restored to Jeremy Corbyn, and because she has never been part of the local cabinet.

Many were also excited at the prospect of Anna being the first black civic leader in Liverpool. She identified herself as the socialist candidate, and gathered support from the left.

Anna was also known in the movement for organising the monthly solidarity vigil for Grenfell, and for leading opposition to racists and the far right.

As soon as the news hit, activists suspected that Anna’s show of solidarity towards Corbyn and other suspended Labour Party members was behind this bureaucratic move. The fact that socialists had already been stopped from standing for the council elsewhere added weight to this belief.

Activists have also linked Anna's treatment with Starmer's dismissal of the Black Lives Matter movement as a ‘moment’.

Fight the cuts

It is clear that Labour members in Liverpool should be allowed to decide who our candidate is, without interference.

We should have had the power to decide the shortlist from the beginning. The decision to allow an appointed panel to do this was initially accepted by members. But such is the anger here now that nobody is going to accept these maneuvers again. This latest provocation is the final straw, spurring local activists to resist the meddling and shenanigans of the party bureaucracy.

We must fight for democracy – and link this to the bigger battle that Liverpool council urgently needs to wage against the Tories. This is another struggle that has been neglected, with the council budget cut by 63% over the last decade.

Our council needs to fight back and refuse to carry out these cuts, taking inspiration from the struggle of the Liverpool City councillors in the 1980s against Thatcher’s government. This means joining forces with other councils, Labour parties, trade unions, and communities to create a mass nationwide campaign against austerity.

For Starmer and the right wing, this would probably sound too much like real opposition. That is why we need to fight to transform Labour into a vehicle for socialist policies. And that is why we need to demand an immediate recall conference.