My choice for Battersea’s next Labour MP

York Gardens Library

York Gardens Library

This Saturday hundreds of Battersea Labour Party members will come together in York Gardens Library to choose our candidate for the 2015 General Election.

There are four talented people to choose from – Martin Linton, the well-regarded MP from 1997-2010, has not put himself forward and now runs the Labour2Palestine organisation. I’ve met all the candidates, read their campaign literature and asked them specific policy questions.

Battersea will be lucky to have any one of these candidates. Whoever wins the nomination will have a wonderful opportunity as well as a serious challenge. Jane Ellison has made an impressive start as Battersea’s new MP and it will be tough to defeat her.

I serve with SHEILA BOSWELL on Wandsworth council – and I have campaigned with WILL MARTINDALE, a banker-turned-charity-worker, most weekends over the past 10 years.

SAM HEATH, a former Latchmere councillor, showed what a formidable campaigner she is on Election Day in 2010 when she worked for 15 hours straight to organise the Latchmere team – and get me, Tony and Wendy elected.

SUNDAR THAVAPALASUNDARA has an extraordinary record of service, first as a soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan and now as a doctor. He is a man of action who will one day make a great Labour MP. As he was explaining his ideas to me walking along the South Bank, he rushed off to revive a man who had collapsed!

It is important that as well as selecting a candidate, we have a serious discussion about the future of Battersea Labour Party. The current formula is not working: we have lost 9 out of the last 10 local elections and only hold three of 21 councillors in Battersea.

It is crucial that our new candidate can lead the party in a fresh direction and improve the way we represent local people. For instance, Battersea could become the most digitally switched-on political party in the country; we could look again at our property holdings; professionalise fundraising; campaign on the issues that matter to local people and bring more community supporters in to our activities. This is the last chance we have to change how we work before the 2014 and 2015 elections – what do you think we could do better?

I’m not going to tell members how to vote and I will very happily support any of the candidates if they are selected. However, local people have been asking me for a choice and I should come off the fence.

In my view, among a strong shortlist the candidate most likely to unite the divided communities of Battersea for a Labour victory is Will Martindale.

Alongside the energy and experience to win, I think Will has the right values to be an effective Labour MP.

It’s a slightly geeky subject but, if you are interested in how parties select their MPs, please see the below letter from Saturday’s Guardian that I signed (along with many others) calling for more public involvement.

This could take the form of an ‘Open Primary’ where all local residents can choose the MP candidate. I took part in the Open Primary that the Tories used it to select Jane Ellison in Battersea. It was an interesting experience – although on that night Louise Mensch came second, so perhaps the system requires a little more thought…

The Guardian
Saturday, 13 July 2013

A primary solution to widening Labour Party democracy

We welcome Ed Miliband’s bold speech setting out reforms to ensure that Labour politics is more open and that machine politics is consigned to history. Organisations like Pragmatic Radicalism, through its Top of the Policies events, are pioneering new ways to encourage the participation of the broadest possible range of people in Labour policy-making. We support Ed Miliband’s view that Labour must “reach out to others outside our party” in order “to genuinely build a movement again”, and agree that primaries may help this process. While no panacea, experimenting with primaries between now and the next election will show the British public that we are an outward-looking party that aspires to bring in a wider range of people as our candidates, not just a narrow elite.

John Slinger Chair, Pragmatic Radicalism
Cllr Mike Harris International officer, Pragmatic Radicalism
Jonathan Todd Vice-chair, Pragmatic Radicalism
Amanda Ramsay Vice-chair, Pragmatic Radicalism
John Mann MP
Gisela Stuart MP
Steve Reed MP
Jenny Chapman MP
Graham Jones MP
David Lammy MP
Ann Clwyd MP
John Woodcock MP
Kevin Barron MP
Lord Rogers of Riverside
Cllr Theo Blackwell London Borough of Camden
Cllr Simon Hogg London Borough of Wandsworth
Cllr Rachel Rogers Chair, Labour Group, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council
Robert Philpot Director, Progress
Joe Dancey Acting director, Progress
Peter Watt Former general secretary of the Labour Party
James Bloodworth Editor, Left Foot Forward
Hopi Sen Former head of campaigns, parliamentary Labour party
Cllr Mike Le-Surf Leader, Labour group, Brentwood Borough Council
Anthony Painter Author, Left without a future?
Cllr Stephen Cowan Leader, Labour group, London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham
David Goodhart
Jess Asato Labour PPC for Norwich North
Alex Smith Former Ed Miliband adviser/ Editor LabourList
Jonny Medland Secretary, Battersea Labour party
Atul Hatwal Editor, Labour Uncut
Lord Turnberg


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