POLITICAL campaigning started in earnest on the national stage yesterday, but last night it emerged that the snap General Election has left parties facing a race against time to select candidates.
The Northern Echo understands that because of the “exceptional circumstances” and the short timescales involved, the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party is inviting applications and drawing up shortlists, and not individual constituencies.
This has caused dismay in North West Durham, where Pat Glass is retiring, with the Constituency Labour Party (CLP) disappointed in having no say over the selection process.
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Applications for the seat will be open for just 48 hours.
Members have been told that “with standard election campaign procedures, meetings at all CLP meetings have now been suspended for the duration of the local and general election period except for campaign planning purposes”.
North West Durham CLP chairman Fraser Tinsley said: “We are very disappointed there will be no input from party members in the selection process.
“The NEC says it will be simply impossible to hold trigger ballots, selection hustings and meetings in the 631 Parliamentary constituencies in the given timescale, especially at a time when members are out campaigning in the local and general elections.
“This situation is extremely regrettable as it removes local CLP members from input to the selection of their parliamentary candidate.”
He added: “We are very disappointed by the process, whereby members of the constituency, of which we have seen significant growth in recent years, are not going to have a say in the selection.
“There will no selection meetings, no opportunity for party members to question any prospective candidates for the seat. They are going to be selected and presented to us.”
The vacancy will be advertised through the Labour Party website from noon today and applications close at noon on Sunday.
The NEC have decided that the seat will be an all-woman shortlist to “at least maintain the number of women MPs in the Parliamentary Labour Party”.
To be eligible to be a candidate, individual members must have 12 consecutive months' membership of the party.
The NEC will then longlist applications, interview longlisted candidates and then select the prospective Labour Party candidate for North West Durham. A new candidate will be announced by the close of Friday April 28.