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Welsh Labour described as ‘vicious factional pit’ as left winger is deprived of chance to become MP

13 Jul 2023 5 minute read
Dawn McGuinness

Martin Shipton

Welsh Labour has been accused of allowing itself to be led down a “vicious factional pit” after a left-wing trade unionist was barred from standing for a parliamentary seat because of her past support for Jeremy Corbyn.

Dawn McGuinness received the backing of Unison and Unite – the two biggest unions in Wales – when she sought selection as Labour’s general election candidate in the new seat of Bangor Aberconwy.

But before local party members had a chance to vote for her, she was removed from the contest by Labour officials who decided her previous support for Mr Corbyn disqualified her from standing for a party now led by Sir Keir Starmer.

The move followed a decision by Labour’s Welsh Executive Committee (WEC) to allow a representative of the party’s ruling National Executive Committee to participate in the selection process for general election candidates in Wales.

There has been a series of controversies in England over candidate selections, with many believing there is a strategy to “purge” as many left wingers as possible so a future parliamentary party stays loyal to Sir Keir if he becomes Prime Minister after winning the election likely to be held next year.

Selection committee

Earlier this week two-thirds of the selection committee resigned in protest at the way the selection process had been conducted.

Ms McGuinness is embedded in the local party and is a rep from her constituency Labour Party on Labour’s National Policy Forum. She also sits on Welsh Labour’s Standing Orders Committee and was a Senedd candidate for Labour in 2021.

She has issued a statement which says: “I am extremely sorry to have learnt that Welsh Labour have taken the decision not to longlist me in the selection process for the new Bangor Aberconwy constituency. This is in spite of having the support of two affiliated unions – Unite and Unison.

“I do not believe that anyone has a right to be a Labour MP, but I do believe in the principle that members deserve both a fair chance to put themselves forward, and a fair chance to select from a broad range of candidates. This decision gravely undermines that principle.

“Ordinarily, the support of even just one affiliated trade union would be enough to secure an automatic place on the longlist. Instead, I have been blocked from the longlist for wholly opaque reasons. In informing me of the decision, Welsh Labour have encouraged to me to apply for other seats, implying that they view me as a suitable candidate – but just not for the place where I grew up and live.

“This demonstrates not just serious contempt for members, but for the electorate too. Unfortunately, there is no process by which I can appeal this decision, despite there being an appeals process in England. So needless to say I am angry and disappointed that once again the Labour Party has acted to stifle democracy among the local membership.

“Thank you to all those members who offered me support up to this point in the process. I appreciate it so much.”

Apalled

The left wing party group Welsh Labour Grassroots published a statement which said: “Welsh Labour Grassroots is appalled but sadly not surprised by the latest selection scandal, which led to two thirds of the Bangor Aberconwy selection panel resigning in disgust when trade unionist and charity worker Dawn McGuinness was blocked from the longlist.

“She’d been nominated by two trade unions – Unison and Unite – when only one is enough to be longlisted, according to party rules. Hastily called to a ‘due diligence’ interview with an NEC rep, she was presented with 13 screenshots of tweets from her long-deleted Twitter account. Eleven of these dated to prior to her being a Welsh Senedd candidate in 2021. They were clearly deemed to be OK then.

“Dawn has since been encouraged to apply for other selections, so it’s recognised what an asset to the party she is. The longlist of three is now the shortlist, breaking party rules that shortlists must be of at least four people and include at least two women.

“We ask the WEC, when it collectively decided to ask for NEC involvement in selections in Wales, did it realise how preposterous it would be made to appear?”

Welsh Labour Grassroots also tweeted: “Dawn McGuinness’ exclusion from the longlist is unconscionable. It is deeply regrettable that Welsh Labour is acting like little more than a branch office responsible for carrying out factionalist diktats.”

Momentum

Momentum, the left wing group originally set up to support Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party, tweeted: “Welsh Labour Grassroots’ longstanding WLG member Dawn McGuinness has been blocked from standing in Bangor & Aberconwy on the flimsiest of pretexts. Between 20 and 30 applicants, yet a ‘longlist’ of three is presented to members. Welsh Labour is allowing itself to be led down a vicious factional pit.”

The website Labour Hub ran an article on the row, saying: “Current rules state that a shortlist has to include at least four people, at least half of whom should be women. Neither of these criteria were met. So apparently the Chair of the WEC was able to authorise a departure from the rules. To quote one party member, when questioned if there was any point in having rules at all: “the reality is that the party machine bends its own rules on virtually a daily basis.”

The WEC is chaired by Cllr Anthony Hunt,the leader of Torfaen council. We invited him to comment, but he did not do so.

On current polling figures, Labour would be expected to win Bangor Aberconwy.


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Richard
Richard
7 months ago

“ As ye sow … so ye shall reap “

So this is now Wales will be ruled when the followers of Sir Kim kick out their fellow Unionists who currently rule us 🥹

Cwm Rhondda
Cwm Rhondda
7 months ago

The British labour party in Wales AKA Welsh Labour

Mawkernewek
7 months ago

If having old social media posts from years ago raked up can lead to disqualification, this means that only dull people will be able to be Labour candidates. Will they be surprised if people vote for Tory clowns instead?

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
7 months ago
Reply to  Mawkernewek

Effectively they will be voting for Tory clowns… Tory Lite clowns. Sadly this is to be expected from Nu Nu Labour under Starmer.

Welsh Labour needs to break away completely from the English party, and Wales needs to take a different path, one ultimately leading to independence.

If it wasn’t already clear, this should demonstrate once and for all that democracy is dead within the Labour Party under Starmer.

Last edited 7 months ago by Padi Phillips
Linda Jones
Linda Jones
7 months ago

Unfortunately the Labour Party, including its Welsh branch, are and have been undemocratic for some time. Starmer is the latest to purge the party of any opinion that challenges his own. It’s becoming an echo chamber for right wingers almost indistinguishable from the tories. Such a shame, denies a political voice for those the Labour Party are meant to represent.

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
7 months ago

Does Wales really need an MP whose vision is to drag us back to the socialist paradise of the eighteenth century?
Ask the now free peoples of the former soviet paradise what they think…..

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
7 months ago
Reply to  Dr John Ball

Not sure that an eighteenth century socialist paradise was Dawn McGuinness’s vision, but I suspect that she supports public ownership of monopoly public utilities, a social security net for the less fortunate in our society and a democratic electoral system. It does begin to seem that if one is a possible labout candidate and support those idea your application will be quashed by London Labour. Welsh Labour really should declare UDI and then perhaps some of us ex-labour members could/would re-join.

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
7 months ago
Reply to  Peter Cuthbert

I don’t necessarily disagree with your comments. However, what concerns me is the idea that a public monopoly is automatically better than a private monopoly. The public sector utilities were inefficient, poorly funded, lacked investment and above treated customers as a ******* nuisance. A safety net for the less fortunate is a fundamental right. The same applies, under Labour it wasn’t worth going to work, the system was over generous and abused. Democracy Labour style is domination by a few left wing (but very well paid) union leaders pulling the strings.. I should make it clear, however that I don’t… Read more »

Erisian
Erisian
7 months ago

I simply cannot understand why Labour voters in Wales cannot see the benefits of becoming a truly Welsh Labour party instead of the Welsh tail on the english dog. Until we achieve independance, requiring english labour to form a coalition with a truly Welsh Labour Party in order to form a majority government can only strengthen Wales’s position. Wales has a long and proud tradition of standing on the left. It must not let this current gang of insipid english centralist management consultants change that. I blame Tony Blair. Possibly incorrectly, but I just love saying it. Fortunately – I… Read more »

Dewi
Dewi
7 months ago

It appears that UK Labour has become the McCarthite Party where dissent is not tolerated. It also indicates that Starmer is ashamed of his past support of Corbyn and can stand to be reminded.

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