Abbott: Labour selection for London Mayor “blatantly rigged”

Diane Abbott, Labour MP. Pic: ELL

Diane Abbott, Labour MP. Pic: ELL

Diane Abbott has criticised her party’s methods in selecting a candidate for London Mayor, saying that the timetable is “ridiculously short”.

Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, has argued that the timetable is so short it amounts to electoral rigging.

She told “The timetable is expressly designed to stop the membership having a proper debate and scrutinising the candidates… [It is] Blatantly rigged.”

Applications open on May 15, just 11 days after the general election. The first hustings, where candidates address potential voters, will take place on June 20. The winner will be announced on July 31, within just two months of the process starting.

Abbott, who has not yet declared if she will be running, was joined by confirmed candidates, Christian Wolmar and Tottenham MP David Lammy, in saying that the “rushed” timetable will prevent the Labour membership from becoming effectively engaged in the process.

The short space between the general election and the mayoral selection is a specific concern.

Lammy said: “I was surprised and shocked that the NEC [National Executive Committee] settled on that dateline. My experience for the general election is that there’s huge deflation at the end of it.”

“People are knackered, they’re tired. Many party members go on holiday; they want a breather.”

For the first time the selection process for Mayor also includes a US-style public primary election, designed to “revolutionise” the way candidates are selected.

Labour leader Ed Miliband’s new voting method was inspired by the French voting process used to elect President Francois Hollande, which charged the public €1 to take part in the ballot.

Labour initially suggested charging non-party members £10 to vote, but this was lowered to £3 after concerns the high fee would deter voters.  Some have argued that charging at all goes against the principles of democratic voting.



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