Crick’s criticisms on selections have resonance in Croydon

Do you think that the selection by a political party of someone who is to be their candidate in an upcoming election ought to be something in the public domain?

Channel 4 News's Michael Crick: critical of secretive selections

Channel 4 News’s Michael Crick: critical of secretive selections

Here at Inside Croydon Towers, we certainly do. Our site’s traffic figures suggest that there is strong and on-going interest in such matters.

Yet the two big beasts of Croydon politics, Labour and the Conservatives, do less than nothing to publicise this matter of fundamental importance in the democratic process.

Indeed, they prefer to try to keep the whole thing top secret.

Recently, when asking about Labour’s selection in one ward for next May’s Town Hall elections, we were given the apparently stock answer of, “We don’t discuss internal selection matters”, which somewhat misses the point that it was the selection of someone who in a matter of months will be asking residents for their vote. Hardly “internal”, is it?

This weekend, the local Conservatives will be grilling 15 wannabes as they select the person who seems guaranteed to be Croydon South’s next MP. Actually, when we say  “grilling”, they may be lucky to get a word in edgeways, since the selection panel includes the Sage of Selsdon, Anne Piles.

This whole process, which concludes on Tuesday, will again be conducted behind closed doors.

And the politicians and their parties wonder why the public is increasingly disengaged from the democratic process?

Don’t just take our word for it. The esteemed Michael Crick, formerly of Newsnight, now political correspondent for Channel 4 News, has taken up the metaphorical cudgels on this topic this week, using as an example the recent selection of the Labour candidate for the safe Welsh seat of The Gower:

“Who is Liz Evans?  I can’t find any details about her on the internet… I don’t know what job she does, or how old she is, or what her politics are.  To be frank, she’s a bit like the Circle Line on the London Underground.  There’s not much evidence she actually exists.

“I’m making a serious point here.

“The political parties are atrocious at giving details of their selection processes, though the Tories are far better than Labour.”

Or here in Croydon, where this weekend will demonstrate that both are as bad as each other.

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2 Responses to Crick’s criticisms on selections have resonance in Croydon

  1. When I was a callow youth I studied The Representation of the People Act 1832 as part of my GCE history syllabus. I was amused by the idea of ‘rotten boroughs’, which the Act abolished, and the casual acceptance of such blatant gerrymandering in the early 19th century.
    Alas we seem to have returned to this malpractice in many parts of Britain, including Croydon, where candidates are selected by small coteries of party faithful with their own axes to grind.
    The result is the election of self-important careerist MPs like Gavin Barwell and Richard Ottaway who firstly serve themselves.
    The little we have seen of open primaries in this country suggest they are a more democratic way of selecting candidates, but they are perhaps not to local parties’ liking as the people chosen are less willing to tow the line and, if elected, to act as lobby fodder.

  2. Anne Giles says:

    They will get a word in edgeways, though, as the interviewers are only allowed to ask the specific questions that they are given. We can’t even comment. Then we write down our scores and at the end they look to see which scores are highest.

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