How Sir Peter Soulsby Rules Them All

Over recent weeks in Leicester, Labour Party members have been discussing and voting upon how they will select the person their party will put forward to stand as their candidate for the powerful position of City Mayor, a post currently held by Sir Peter Soulsby. Unfortunately — for the people of Leicester — the result of this ‘debate’ was that the incumbent would remain Labour’s choice of candidate in next years election, allowing Soulsby to remain unopposed and unencumbered by any potential Labour alternative.

This trigger ballot process was however not without controversy and yesterday the Skwawkbox web site reported that they had obtained a letter that was sent from three city Labour councilors addressed to Keir Starmer that outlined why these councillors’ believed the “selection process” had been “shambolic”, “Islamophobic” and “racist”. For the full details of accusations made by the three councillors (these being Cllr Patterick, Cllr Rita Patel, and Cllr Sharmen Rahman) read the Skwawkbox article here: “Exclusive: cllrs say Labour rigged, excluded women/Muslims and more to protect Leicester mayor from selection contest” (May 4).

On the simple matter of voting, it appears that trade unions and other Labour affiliates held half of the votes in the Electoral College that ultimately decided that Soulsby would stand unopposed, while local Labour branches held the other half of the votes. Tragically, it seems that only one trade union (the Bakers Union) voted that there should be an open selection process for the City Mayoral position, with the rest of the trade unions in the city voting that Soulsby should be allowed to stand unopposed as Labour’s Mayor candidate.

In terms of the voting record of local Labour branches, eight branches voted in favour of an open selection process with nine branches voted it should be closed (that is, the latter agreed that Soulsby should stand unopposed). This however does not account for all the branches of the Labour Party in Leicester and the three councillors’ raise serious concerns with these exceptions. The three counillors also pointed out in their letter (in a rather confused manner) that even Sir Peter Soulsby’s own branch didn’t get take a formal vote on the selection process. Either way what we do know is that the turnout of Labour Party members in the branch votes was low, and that of the total Labour members whose votes were counted 143 voted for an open selection process while just 111 voted for the process to be closed.

To read more about how the internal Labour Party Mayoral selection process was conducted in 2018 see my earlier article “Blairites block Labour Party democracy in Leicester”; and for more details about why Sir Peter Soulsby’s reign as City Mayor is so problematic, see “A city of two Mayors” (an article which outlines the undemocratic nature of the City Mayoral system) and “Sir Peter Soulsby’s reign: the relevance of King Richard III today” (which reviews an indepdedent report that demonstrated how local Labour councillors had a “palpable fear” of Sir Peter “and of the consequences for themselves if they were to ‘go against him’ in any way”).

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