Breaking news: Greenwich West councillor Matt Pennycook has been selected as Labour’s candidate for Greenwich & Woolwich at the next general election, after a meeting of local members at the Woolwich Grand Theatre.
The vote followed a hustings featuring Pennycook and his five rivals for the position – Len Duvall, Annie Keys, Kathy Peach, David Prescott and Angela Cornforth.
Pennycook’s selection to succeed Nick Raynsford in the safe Labour seat is likely to have ramifications in Greenwich Council, where he had been tipped by some to be a future leader.
He may now choose to stand down from the council at May’s election, where he has already been re-selected as a candidate for Greenwich West. There’s nothing stopping him staying on for a year (or even being a councillor and an MP), although he may wish to avoid the cost of a council election to follow a general election.
This would open up another vacant Labour seat. With two of leader Chris Roberts’ allies having been forced out of their seats earlier this year, the stage is set for a battle between those who back the embattled leader and others who want to see the council take a new direction.
With Roberts widely thought to be reconsidering his decision to step down at the next election, who gets picked for these seats could be crucial for the future of the council.
Pat Boadu-Darko has stepped down in Eltham North for personal reasons, while it’s also believed there’s a space in Blackheath Westcombe after Simon Thomson was selected for Dartford at the general election.
Kidbrooke with Hornfair has selected Christine Grice to replace Hayley Fletcher, who resigned her nomination citing the “culture of bullying”.
2.30pm update: According to Labour’s council candidate for Shooters Hill, Chris Kirby, the 2015 general election has just been cancelled in Greenwich and Woolwich.
2.45pm update: And this bloke:
Heaven forbid that any of the rest of us get a say…
7.30pm update: And there’s not really else to add. A curious fact: Matt Pennycook was the first man to be selected for Labour for the next election in a seat where an MP is retiring – all the others have been all-female shortlists.
I’ve been told but can’t confirm that it was a closer battle than some expected, with the gap between Matt Pennycook and Len Duvall being as close as 30 votes (out of about 500), with David Prescott coming third.
Questions put to candidates included: “How would you reconcile the need for jobs and transport improvements locally with the global imperative to reduce carbon emissions?” Tellingly for Greenwich Council’s claims of mass support, when it came to the Silvertown Tunnel, only Angela Cornforth was outright in her support for it.
So now it’s all over. Congratulations to Matt Pennycook – hopefully he’ll both champion the people of Greenwich & Woolwich (and points around and in between) and be a much-needed force for good in his own party and beyond. Good luck to him.
And as for Labour party members…
About half of the selection bumpf I've had through door in past month. To the recycling bin! #GWselection pic.twitter.com/c31JlRv11l— [Restricted] Animal (@politic_animal) November 30, 2013
And to think my ancestors fought for the vote! Do I have one any longer? If this is such a shoo in why bother to go to the polls? I will of course, but this attitude of entitlement makes me sick. I’d probably feel the same in Bexley or any area where one party has been in for far too long and needs a good shake up.
Mate, I was bought up in the Croydon South constituency in the 60s. By majority it was the third safest seat in the country. It was not a Labour seat. The sense of entitlement you complain of goes with a built in majority. As the Private Eye blog says, “Time to end this disastrous experiment with Democracy!”
I’m reliably informed that there was a punch-up between rival factions in the Labour Party when the votes were being counted (which, co-incidentally given the recent post on this blog about it) was at the Woolwich Grand Theatre and that the Police were called!
There’s a paragraph about the selection in the Times today. Says that David Prescott was considered to have given the best speech. Picks up on the Pennycook/Unite connection and the free breakfasts.
Bang on Chris. Enlightened despotism has a lot going for it. Yes Mr Roberts, I said ENLIGHTENED, not Greenwich Labour’s kind.
Hi all, I hope everyone is well. I thought I would comment as I was in attendance. There was certainly no ‘punch-up’ that I witnessed. Everyone acted with dignity. Yes, Matt Pennycook had the backing of a number of unions, but other unions chose to back other candidates including Len Duvall and David Prescott. The theatre was freezing and all candidates spoke incredibly well. There was indeed a small gathering/rally for supporters of Matt with tea and coffee paid for by donations from local members (which I did not attend as it happened). There was always going to be only one winner, that is the nature of selections and I am trilled by the positive attitude taken by ALL candidates. The debate sparked by this process has been hugely positive for us as a local party. I look forward to the wider debate ahead with our rivals and the coverage it will rightly receive.
Chris Lloyd (local Labour member and 2014 council candidate)
The real test will be when he has to decide if his constituents or his party whip has priority.
On another note, I’m sure the residents of Shooters Hill couldn’t be any ‘prouder’ if Kirby is elected. Will he guarantee to stay in this Country if elected and not wander off to Australia?
Reports of rival factions fighting at the MP Selection meeting 30 11 2013 are sadly wrong. What did happen was a CLP member was using the event to shout about other issues as the first candidate spoke.
He was asked to leave and in the lobby area of the theatre dropped to the floor. Having gone down he refused to get up and claimed that up to 6 CLP members plus the London Labour Rep had kicked him whilst he was down. Police did arrive took statements checked the video footage and left…even less exciting no-one was charged or even arrested not even me
Stephen Brain Peninsula ward Labour candidate 2014
Greenwich & Woolwich Labour Selection Final Breakdown:
Matthew Pennycook (MP) – 172
Len Duvall (LD) – 133
Kathy Peach (KP) – 42
David Prescott (DP) – 41
Annie Keys (AK) – 33
Angela Cornforth (AC) – 8
MP – 172
LD – 136
KP – 44
DP – 42
AK – 34
MP – 175
LD – 147
DP – 58
KP – 48
4th Round (Both Kathy and David eliminated as their combined vote is less than both Matt and Len)
MP – 222
LD – 190
Final round Transfers:
24 transfers to Len Duvall
20 transfers to Matthew Pennycook
27 transfers to Matthew Pennycook
21 transfers to Len Duvall
I suspect Matt’s will be all about the party whip.
Greenwich, and especially the western part of SE10 has a fantastic MP, Woolwich on the other hand will be ignored sadly.
According to Geoff Brighty, Conservative councillor for Blackheath Westcombe:
“And now an ordinary member of the Labour Party has copied a letter to Conservative as well as Labour Councillors in which he complains of his treatment at the recent meeting to select Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Greenwich & Woolwich. He alleges that he was kicked and thrown to the floor. The reason ? The 86 year old had apparently been disputing the method of asking questions of the various candidates. We weren’t there, of course, so we may not know everything about the incident but it does paint an extraordinary picture of Labour locally. Join Labour and get a thick ear !”
That’s quite some accusation.
I hope this isn’t going to be one of those incidents where the victim is John Fahy again, hasn’t he suffered enough?
I was three rows back and the incident was about the inability to ask questions as Darryl reports, not about shouting about other issues like Stephen suggests. This specific incident did nothing to disrupt the first candidate either.
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