‘FURIOUS’ Labour members are demanding they get a vote on who is selected as the party’s candidate in Warrington North.

Labour’s Helen Jones will not be standing in the General Election on December 12 as she is retiring after 22 years as MP in the constituency.

The party is yet to pick its candidate in the seat but members fear they could have a candidate ‘imposed’ on them early next week.

It will be an all-women shortlist for the selection in Warrington North.

The Warrington Guardian understands there is interest from Cllr Amanda King, deputy council leader Cllr Cathy Mitchell, north west MEP Theresa Griffin and Yasmine Dar, who is a member of the party's national executive committee (NEC).

Deputy chair of Winwick Parish Council Mike Matthews, a former borough councillor, has contacted members of the NEC to make it clear members ‘deserve’ an all-member hustings and vote next week.

He says he has had many responses from ‘furious’ party members who want their say.

In his letter to NEC members, Mr Matthews stated the sudden retirement announcement of Mrs Jones so close to an election ‘means there is a real possibility that members will again be denied their democratic rights’.

Warrington Guardian:

Helen Jones

He said: “The last time CLP (Constituency Labour Party) members in Warrington North got to choose a new parliamentary candidate was 23 years ago, in the run up to the 1997 election.

“Where there have been similar retirements of Labour MPs, member hustings have been arranged within a week’s notice, such as Wrexham which was organised for Sunday 3rd November but has actually now been brought forward to Friday 1st November.

“This demonstrates that the process is agile and can accommodate a final hustings for members to have their democratic right of choosing their new parliamentary candidate.

“Warrington Labour and indeed the wider region has a wealth of talented and experienced women, it would therefore be unacceptable to members to have a candidate imposed on us.

“I, and many others, are demanding our democratic right to choose our next parliamentary candidate, in a member hustings.”

The deadline for submitting candidate nomination papers is November 14.

Mr Matthews also told the Warrington Guardian the issue is ‘not about factions’ and is ‘simply’ about calling a meeting next week to give people a vote.

He added: “As a Corbynite, I thought we moved on from the days of decisions being made in smoke-filled rooms.”

Warrington North Labour Party said the CLP’s policy is to not comment on any internal selection process but confirmed the party will announce its candidate in the ‘coming days’.

The Labour Party says CLP selections take around two and a half months.

In a snap general election, candidates have to be selected immediately so, the party says, these selections can only be conducted by the NEC to ensure they are completed in time.

It added that in Labour-held CLPs where the selection meeting was due to take place this week, these will go ahead as planned.

The party said the point about Wrexham is entirely irrelevant as Wrexham was already conducting a selection process and their selection meeting was due to take place this week – and that the reason this was ‘well under way’ is because the MP, Ian Lucas, announced he was standing down three weeks ago.

A Labour source said: “We’re in a snap general election. All our candidates have to be selected quickly to meet the deadline and this seat has only become vacant this week.

“For the first time ever in a snap election, Labour is ensuring that the panels that select candidates include regional and CLP representation.”

The party says if Mrs Jones had announced she was standing down a few weeks ago, there would have been a democratic selection process in Warrington North too.

But as she only announced this on Wednesday, it is having to ‘start the process from scratch’ in Warrington North.

In the remaining seats, including Warrington North, selections will be conducted by panels including NEC members, as well as regional and CLP representatives.

The party confirmed it is the first time in a snap general election that there will be regional or CLP representation on selection panels.

A Labour Party spokesman said: “After the 2017 snap general election, we immediately began democratic selections to ensure Labour members would be able to choose their candidates.

“Members have elected their candidates in almost 200 seats.

“We’re more prepared than we’ve ever been at this stage in the parliamentary cycle, ready to launch the most ambitious, radical campaign for real change that this country has ever seen.”