Labour discord over Lewisham East selection as Lib Dem Lucy Salek starts work

Lucy Salek is getting on with her campaign for Lewisham East after being selected by local Lib Dem members last night, just 3 days after the by-election was called.

Labour’s defence of the seat has not got off to the most harmonious start as there has been a row over the NEC’s decision to control their selection. They will not announce their candidate for another week. Politics Home has more:

But the notion that the process will be based on the quality of the applications themselves is for the birds. In all likelihood, the Labour leadership has already chosen the candidate it wants and the two or three others it could live with.

A key element of the decision will be who is most likely to play ball in the Commons voting lobbies and tow the leadership line. Alexander was a thorn in the side of Jeremy Corbyn – the first MP to quit her job in the exodus after the EU referendum and a dogged campaigner for a soft-Brexit. The risk of handing the job to someone even half as unhelpful is too great not to control the process with something of a Blairite grip.

And the local members are not what you would call a united bunch.

The level of control being exerted by the NEC flies in the face of claims that Labour is now a member-led body under Corbyn. The by-election selection is the first since Momentum founder Jon Lansman – a major proponent of membership control – was voted onto the party’s ruling body. But the process so far would make a Blairite blush. Momentum itself is yet to decide whether to back a candidate for the selection at all – which is just as well, since it remains unclear who to direct to spread the message on the ground. The Lewisham branch of the campaign group has split into two factions, both claiming to be the official entity, one led by old-school Alliance for Workers’ Liberty members and another by young pro-Corbyn types.

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