Congratulations Sarah: now let’s learn the lessons of Rotherham

Congratulations to Sarah Champion, the new Labour MP for Rotherham (full results below). She will no doubt do a great job in the role – we hope better than her predecessor Denis MacShane.

So can we all breathe a sigh of relief? Well, of course, in that Labour won. Respect may be capable of delivering reality-checks to Labour, as in Bradford West, but only Labour can deliver a government that works in the interests of working people. And that’s not to mention the appalling judgment calls made by George Galloway – and candidates who have refused to distance themselves from him – in recent months. It’s welcome to see those rejected – and of course, Yvonne Ridley appeared on the ballot paper as “Respect (George Galloway)”.

But the result is hardly a vindication of the selection process that saw local candidates kept off the ballot paper by the party machine. With a turnout of 33 per cent and an unheard-of second place for a party that capitalises on disillusionment, it is clear that voters have been turned off by the political process that disenfranchised the people of their town.

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The Rotherham debacle: time to reform selections

Yesterday, members of the Rotherham constituency Labour party were given two names to choose between to be their next parliamentary candidate. A very short short-list.

The short-list had not been drawn up by a selection committee as is standard procedure, but by the party’s national executive committee (NEC).

Members were reported to be infuriated by the fact that no local candidate appeared on the short-list. Mahroof Hussein, a prominent local councillor, has been reported to be a candidate members wanted included.

At the selection meeting this evening, a large number of members walked out in protest at the procedure. The number reported has ranged from 114 to 140.

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