A Labour Party member in Leeds has unwittingly exposed a plan to prevent sitting Labour councillors from re-standing in the city by mounting a Momentum-style takeover of the party body which selects them.
In a leaked email seen by The Red Roar, Paul Stavris the Secretary of the Local Campaign Forum in Leeds, details how a well-organised cabal of hard-left members plotted successfully to take over the LCF – the regional body that selects prospective councillors, as part of a city-wide push to purge moderates.
That has already resulted in one former councillor, Andrea McKenna, being kept off the panel of candidates and effectively forced into retirement.
Local party bosses in Yorkshire are now understood to be investigating claims by local councillors that the selection system has been rigged.
Local Campaign Forums are run by members who are elected by local constituency labour parties and vet prospective council candidates.
In the past that approval process has been little more than a formality, but they are increasingly being used by the hard-left to remove candidates who do not share their political outlook.
In the email to a colleague, Stavris describes how he and his colleagues mounted a campaign to seize control of the LCF in order to exercise a stranglehold over Labour councillors.
He says that included “doing my best to make sure that our own….. Left interviewers saw “our” candidates for interview, etc” – an apparent admission that he used his position as LCF Secretary to try to fix selections.
He describes his grouping as “a loose caucus of left activists with mostly common aims responsible formally to the mostly Left LCF delegates and informally to the wider Momentum caucus in the city”.
He writes: “We developed a strategy to use it as a campaigning forum within the Party in Leeds along the same lines as Momentum had done successfully on a smaller scale. When we successfully challenged for the leadership we realised that we had a unique opportunity to place momentum/left candidates in vacant council seats to form a bloc on the City Council, to help in the process of transforming the Labour Group as well.
The strategy is similar to that used by other entyrist groups in the past – including Militant in Liverpool in the 1980s – and will heighten fears that the apparatus of the Labour party is being hijacked by a hard left faction as part of a coordinated attempt to drive moderates out of the party.