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Aberavon selection: anyone but a working class candidate?

Hywel Francis (Credit: BBC)What a difference a day makes! Yesterday, we questioned whether Stephen Kinnock, who sent his daughter to a Danish private school, was a suitable potential Labour MP. Since then, we’ve heard that Kinnock now stands little chance of winning the Aberavon constituency selection. His all-star strategy has backfired. Paying to opt-out of state education hasn’t gone down well in a working-class constituency, and neither has flying over Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt – his wife – for a party dinner. As such, Kinnock has not won a single branch nomination – and thus won’t make it onto the shortlist. Instead, it seems party hacks have thrown their weight behind lawyer, Oxford graduate and former Progress NPF candidate Jeremy Miles as the man best-placed to beat the left-winger.

Left Futures readers in South Wales have informed us that the office of retiring Aberavon MP Hywel Francis (pictured) has been busy phoning branch officers in the constituency, telling them that Mark Fisher, a working class UNISON lay official, “lacks the academic ability” to represent the area in parliament. In other words: snobbery, pure and simple. For all Ed Miliband’s pronouncements about the need for more working class MPs, the party machine still rolls into action in support of Progress hacks, and the trade union activists who keep the party alive are shut out.

Miles is no stranger to parliamentary selections. He has tried – and failed – in Cardiff South and Penarth and Ipswich, and was mentioned in connection to Gower before it was announced the latter would be an all-women shortlist. He stood – and predictably, came third – in Beaconsfield at the 2010 general election. He is a strong believer in “fiscal rigour”. Though the word on the street is that these days he’s doing his best to make it known he’s left Progress.

Meanwhile, as yet another vacancy arises in South Wales, in Ann Clwyd’s Cynon Valley seat, expect to be hearing about Stephen Kinnock’s expensive efforts for a while longer. It would seem that his continued candidacy in Aberavon is being used as a smokescreen behind which a true Progress operator can be slipped in. And apparently it’s fine to smear a working-class candidate in the process. Though can you really smear someone for being working class to a Labour party audience? We’ll see when the votes roll in!

18 Comments

  1. Rod says:

    There’s a simple solution – if you don’t like Progress, don’t vote Labour.

  2. John reid says:

    What if your constituency is represented by John McDonnell.or mr Newman Or Jeremy Corbyn, or Ken Livingstone gets Brent, saying that, he didn’t always back the labour candidate

  3. Chris Packerton says:

    “In other words: snobbery, pure and simple.”

    No. If he lacks the academic ability (I’ve never heard of him so can’t comment myself) then he lacks the academic ability. You could be an aristocrat and lack academic ability. You could be middle class and lack the ability to be an MP. You could be of any class, gender or ethnicity under the sun and still lack academic ability.

    This strange universe where every ‘working class’ trade union-backed candidate is automatically a saint, while university graduates are suspicious, is a damaging fiction which this blog should really move on from.

  4. peter willsman says:

    This is worrying,I recall that another lawyer,T Blair,lost in (?) Beaconsfield.Hopefully the curse of history can not be that cruel to our Party!

  5. Andrea says:

    Kinnock just got Community nomination. Unite and UCATT nominated Miles. I guess Unison went for Fisher.

    Ward branches nominations are usually a better indicator. Do you have a full pitture ? Judging by his twitter comments, Miles has the male nomination in at least 5 wards so far.

    Ah, on Cynon Valley…I wonder what kind of reasons NEC could come up with for not giving an AWS…

  6. John reid says:

    And T Blair went on to be the only one to win an election,or get more than 40% of the vote in 40years

  7. Daniel Potts says:

    I have said this in a previous post and I’ll say it again now, this infighting is ruining the party. I don’t agree with anyone being attacked because of their background. You can’t help that, it’s your vision for the future you should be judged on.

    Also, It is not true to say that Stephen, who has been nominated by affiliated union branches, won’t make the short-list. We are only in the first week of branch nominations and there are quite a few yet to come.

    The shortlist will come from a Selection Committee has been formed under the Labour Party rules, and that Committee will draw up the short-list in due course. The committee has yet to meet and should be impartial, so I don’t know how anyone can claim to know what their decision is yet to be?

  8. Whilst noting Hywel Francis’s somewhat harsh dismissal of Mark Fisher,I wouldn’t too readily dismiss Hywel Francis per se.He is perhaps the leading working class historian in Wales.

  9. S.O. Davies says:

    Hywel has come a long way since his Communist Party days. A fine academic who lost his way in the Labour Party and ended up on the Westminster gravy train.

    1. Left wing finisher says:

      SO Davies,
      Gravy train?
      Really? His voting record suggests otherwise.
      Voting against the Iraq war and Syrean War, and his Bill for carers.
      You should qualify your accusations in future rather than indulge in bandwagon jumping!

  10. Ian says:

    Personally, I would vote Plaid as you are far more likely to get someone with a streak of socialism. Shame about the trade union candidate being ruled out, though.

  11. Jill says:

    To put the record straight.

    In Denmark there are some schools that provide specialist teaching for high ability children, and in order to enable them to provide that they make a nominal charge of about £100 per month. Otherwise they are 99% funded by the state, and are to all intents and purposes maintained schools.

    Steve Kinnock’s eldest daughter went to such a school from 14 to 16, before going to sixth form college. His other daughter has stayed in the local community comprehensive. It is not, therefore, true to say that his children have used private schools.

    Comparisons between the divided British system and the Danish system are misleading. There are a few British-type private schools in Denmark, but neither of Steve’s girls went to such schools, at any time.

    It is not true to say that Stephen, who has been nominated by affiliated union branches, won’t make the short-list. A Selection Committee has been formed under the Labour Party rules, and that Committee will draw up the short-list in due course.

    1. Jon Lansman says:

      Strange then that the Thorning-Schmidt-Kinnock decision should have been such an issue in the election in Denmark. Could it be because on the Social Democrats’ own website, public schools are right up there as a key party issue along with health, the environment and integration.

      ‘No parent should have to feel it necessary to buy a place at a private school to give their children a proper schooling,’ reads the Social Democrats’ literature.

      According to the Copenhagen Post, in 2002, Thorning-Schmidt contributed to a book with her views on education, saying there were many reasons a parent might choose a private school.

      ‘The most important explanation in many cases, however, is the selfish narrow-mindedness of the middle class,’ she wrote at the time.

  12. Robert says:

    Progress seems to be winning another seat the third way is full steam ahead to become Tory Lite.

  13. swatantra says:

    We need to get more COMPASS MPs into Parliament to sort out Britains problems. The old factions and vested interests in the Party have simply run out of ideas, or are repeating their mistakes. We need a new direction to build that Good Society.

  14. EH says:

    Just out of interest what’s the measure you’re using to decide class here? Because both Mark and Jeremy are white collar workers. I don’t think going to university or your politics impacts your class background

  15. Mark says:

    The Labour Party was set up to be a voice for the working class .We should never forget our roots & values .

  16. Morten jensen says:

    Workers beware of the wolfs in sheeps clothing. We didn’t ! Lesson learned: “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”

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