Justice secretary Chris Grayling says Labour's parliamentary selection process "lacks integrity"
PUBLISHED: 09:00 19 July 2013
A senior government minister has said Labour's parliamentary selection process for the coveted Hampstead and Kilburn seat lacked integrity - following allegations that union chiefs manipulated results in Falkirk.
Justice secretary Chris Grayling made his comments during a fundraising event in Hampstead for Conservative hopeful Simon Marcus.
He called for the Labour Party to halt all its parliamentary selection processes after the influence of the union Unite has come under national scrutiny.
Mr Grayling said: “Given what’s happened in the Labour Party, it’s far from clear that any of their current selection processes have integrity. They have clearly been through a process of quite widespread entryism.
“I think the Labour Party needs to call a halt to all their selections and get their processes right before they select their candidates.”
Union influence on Labour’s selection of candidate was put under the spotlight after the Falkirk controversy last week.
It was claimed Unite signed up new members to the local Labour Party in Falkirk, Scotland, to ensure their favoured candidate, Karie Murphy, a senior figure at the union, would win the vote to represent the constituency at the next general election.
An internal investigation by the Labour Party claimed that Unite paid for their membership fees en bloc. Since the details of the Falkirk scandal emerged, Labour leader Ed Miliband has vowed to reform the party’s relationship with unions. But head of Unite, Len McCluskey, said the union had been the victim of a “smear campaign”.
Mr Grayling, speaking just days before the Labour Party selected its Hampstead and Kilburn candidate, said: “How can the [public] be confident that any selection proceeding has integrity? Until the Labour Party sorts out this mess, I don’t think they can carry on selecting candidates and they should be looking again at the candidates they have selected.”
The Hampstead and Kilburn seat, currently held by Labour’s Glenda Jackson, is predicted to be one of the most hotly-contested during the next general election.
In January, Oscar-winning actress Ms Jackson, who has been the MP since 1992, confirmed she would not be standing again. She won in 2010 with a majority of just 42 votes – the narrowest margin in the country.
On Sunday, Labour announced Camden Council cabinet member Tulip Siddiq would be running for the Hampstead and Kilburn seat.
She said: “That’s absolutely ridiculous. Unite played no part whatsoever. It was an unfortunate incident in Falkirk but Unite didn’t sponsor any candidates in Hampstead and Kilburn and our selection process was extremely democratic and down the line.
“Nearly 400 people voted and they had to have been members since October to take part.”