A fresh battle over the direction of the Labour party has erupted after Momentum founder Jon Lansman backed moves to re-open all of its London councillor selections.
Lansman, who is all but certain to be elected to the ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) in the New Year, put on Facebook his support for the radical proposal.
Under the plan, drafted in a Change.org petition by the Ealing branch of the grassroots organisation Momentum, the London Labour party board would have to start its selections afresh.
The move follows a bitter bout of in-fighting in the party over “de-selections” of moderate councillors in Haringey who had backed a controversial public-private housing development programme.
But as the left-wing and moderate elements of the party battle it out for the key seats ahead of the 2018 local elections, Momentum now claims that Blairite group Progress and Labour First activists are blocking their own candidates.
The Ealing Momentum petition states: “We believe that the 2018 local government candidate selections have been conducted in a manner that has resulted in potential candidates being excluded from selection on spurious grounds and has disenfranchised newer party members in a way that is unjustified and avoidable.”
It insists that any potential candidates excluded from shortlisting or selection must be re-interviewed and reassessed for suitability for selection.
Richard Angell, director of the centrist group Progress, said: “Jon Lansman only seems to support party democracy when it goes his way.
“Rather than throwing the London Labour 2018 into chaos he should be focused on making gains and winning for Labour.”
But a Momentum source told HuffPost UK: “Jon signed because he was frustrated with the one-sided narrative much of the press are pushing around councillor selections.
“In Barking, Newham, Redbridge, Waltham Forest, Hackney and elsewhere we’ve seen left wing council candidates either blocked from standing or deselected by Progress organising.
“In Redbridge, this included a woman suffering from cancer who was accused of not attending enough meetings.”
After the HuffPost published the story, Lansman tweeted that he was making his personal views known.
One senior party source told HuffPost UK that the re-selection plan had ‘no chance’ of success because Jeremy Corbyn’s office was not behind it.
A member of the NEC added that the trade unions would also be against the proposal.