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A GRASSROOTS fightback in Liverpool against Labour’s leadership intensified today after the party announced two new candidates for the city’s mayoral elections in May.
Labour caused outrage last week after scrapping a shortlist of three candidates selected by the party locally with no explanation.
Now the party has shortlisted Liverpool City councillors Joanne Anderson and Anthony Lavelle.
MPs, councillors, union leaders, civil rights campaigners and Black Lives Matter groups united in an open letter today to condemn the move.
They warned that the “fiasco” of national interference could cause “irreparable harm” to Labour in the traditionally rock-solid city.
The letter said that the party at national level had caused “extreme consternation and de-motivation” among Labour members before a crucial election.
The letter widens a deepening rift between members of Liverpool Labour Party and Sir Keir Starmer’s national leadership, and ramps up pressure on the party to reinstate the original shortlist.
And it criticises the leadership’s “attempt to railroad through a new candidate before we have answers about why the previous shortlist was scrapped.”
The original, locally selected shortlist, included black socialist candidate and the city’s Lord Mayor Anna Rothery, who was backed by leading figures on Labour’s left, including Jeremy Corbyn.
She is launching legal action over Labour’s interference in the selection, which had adhered strictly to party rules.
The letter states: “Justice must be allowed to take its course before any replacement shortlist of candidates is imposed and, if Anna’s legal case proves that she was treated unfairly, she must be reinstated to her rightful place on the ballot.
“The party’s actions would otherwise appear discriminatory and further damage the party’s reputation and its standing with BAME communities.
“Any decision taken on Labour’s candidate, while previously shortlisted candidates remain excluded without due process afforded to challenge those decisions, will be wide open to charges of a political stitch-up and therefore will not have the confidence of the Labour membership or the wider Liverpool public.
“The party must immediately provide clarity and transparency about why this has happened and why each of the three originally approved shortlisted candidates has been blocked, and those decisions must be open to scrutiny and challenge.”
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