The Croydon North by-election date is confirmed today with Labour “moving the writ” in parliament. ANDREW PELLING, a former parliamentarian, explains the arcane process
The people of Croydon North have been waiting for 40 days for a writ to be issued by the Speaker of the House of Commons for the by-election to fill the vacancy caused by the death of the sitting MP Malcolm Wicks.
The understanding and precedent between the political parties represented in parliament is that a writ is proposed in the House of Commons within three months of the vacancy occurring by the party who previously held the seat. If parliament agrees, the Speaker issues the writ.
www.parliament.uk advises that, “Until a new MP is elected, constituency matters are handled by an MP of the same party in a neighbouring constituency.”
Despite all these commonly understood practices, the Croydon Central MP had been getting all a little impatient, taking to social media this week to suggest that the by-election might not take place on the November 29 date that had been trailed for the past fortnight, and to claim that he’s doing casework from Croydon North constituents, despite this being against the agreed practice of the work being the role of an MP as the same party as the deceased.
The Croydon North by-election, having first been considered for November 15 alongside three other by-elections, will now be held alongside a by-election in Middlesbrough caused by the death of their long-standing Labour MP, Sir Stuart Bell, and one in Rotherham prompted by the resignation of Denis MacShane over his expenses scandal.
The writ was moved, proposed in the House of Commons, this morning.
The writ sees the rare sight of the chief whip of the party which currently holds the seat speaking at the despatch box. Chief whips’ contributions in the House are normally restricted to procedural comments, although Patrick McLoughlan was famously very rude to Speaker Bercow from beside the Speaker’s chair when not speaking normally. It’s probably just as well that chief whips’ comments are limited, given Andrew Mitchell’s remarks about “plebs”.
The starting gun for a by-election is by precedent in the possession of the party previously holding the seat. It’s just a few words muttered “moving the writ” and the House agrees the proposal without dissent.
The declared candidates so far are:
- Monster Raving Loony John Cartwright
- National Front Richard Edmonds
- Respect Lee Jasper
- Green Shasha Khan
- UKIP Winston McKenzie
- Liberal Democrat Marisha Ray
- Labour Steve Reed
- Young People’s Party Robin Smith
- Communist Ben Stevenson
- Conservative Andrew Stranack
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