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Another Left-Wing Labour Hopeful ‘Blocked’ as Senior Union Figure Speaks Out his Selections Controversy

Brian McDaid says he was barred from being running for Labour over a 12-year old Facebook post about Israel-Palestine – before he was an active member

Aegis union Assistant General Secretary and Labour campaigner Brian McDaid

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The frontrunner to be Labour’s candidate for a Yorkshire seat believes he was blocked from being the candidate – despite being backed by his local party – because of a 12-year-old Facebook post about Palestine. 

Brian McDaid, who is Assistant General Secretary of the financial services union Aegis, voiced his frustration over the Labour Party’s selection process after being blocked by the National Executive Committee (NEC) at the end of April as the candidate for Skipton and Ripon.

McDaid has shed new light on the opaque and centralised nature of candidate selection, as anger grows in the party over the treatment of individuals like Faiza Shaheen, a left-wing candidate who was barred from standing by the party’s NEC just after the election was called – despite coming a close second to senior Conservative Ian Duncan Smith MP in the Chingford and Woodford Green seat in 2019. 

McDaid says he was called to a virtual meeting with several members of Labour’s National Executive Committee in late April, where he was immediately presented with a 2012 Facebook post of his branding Israel a “rogue state” over its actions in Palestine, and condemning “numerous acts of barbarity, war crimes, and atrocities” by the country’s military during the long-running Israel-Palestine conflict. 

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The union leadership figure insists the post – which we’ve shared in full below for context – was not antisemitic but instead pointed only to “factual statements” about the actions of the country’s Government and military. Descriptions of “murder” by Israeli forces in the post may be contested by the Israeli Government, but most claims appear to be based on verified news stories. 

The rushed selection process – ahead of what was believed to have been a snap General Election coming in May – was devoid of local input, McDaid says. “My local [Constituency Labour Party] said to the regional party, probably about a year ago: ‘Look, we’ve got a candidate, and we’re willing to campaign with him.’

“And then the regional [office] said: ‘It’s down to the NEC’. After that, our chair was trying desperately to get some form of process in place.” 

Even after he put in his formal application in January there was “radio silence” for months, McDaid added. The local party heard almost nothing until this April, he said. 

Then suddenly, there was a burst of activity. 

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When he was finally called for an interview, it was “very rushed” and unprofessional, he recounted.

“It was booked in over Teams for 11 o’clock…11 o’clock came: nothing. Then at 11:20, the [NEC] panel came on. There were five or six of them. There was no introduction, it was straight into it: ‘Can you explain this post?’”

“I recognised the post I shared 12 years ago, before I was an active member. It was difficult to remember, but I said it was factual. Like anything I share on social media, I ensure that it’s fact checked, double-checked, and triple-checked…

“I asked what was the allegation against me here? And they couldn’t say.”

They thanked him for his response and left the meeting. 

“Two days later, the regional [Labour party] director called me to say: ‘Unfortunately, the National Executive decided not to take your application forward’. And that was it.”

He asked to find out what the appeal process was – but has not heard anything back since.

McDaid describes himself as a socialist and says the process suggests to him that there is a “purge” in the party of left-wing candidates. 

He points to the contrast with NEC figures being “parachuted” into safe seats, including Labour right figure Luke Akehurst who has been chosen as the party’s candidate in North Durham. (There is now a crowdfunding campaign to oppose his nomination, led by pro-Palestine activists). 

Labour has now selected a candidate in Skipton and Ripon, Malcolm Birks. McDaid holds no ill feeling against him but believes the process was overly top-down and factional.

“Lots of people have contacted me saying they’ve been put in the same position,” the union activist said. 

Despite the setback, McDaid remains committed to his community and activism. “I’ll continue to serve as a town councillor and campaign on crucial issues like mental health, public services, and child poverty.” But bruised by the experience, he will not be out campaigning during the General Election. 

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“It’s nothing at all to do with our CLP, who I have the greatest respect and pride for. It’s all down to how I have been treated by the NEC and Central Party,” McDaid said. 

He is now calling for consistent and transparent processes on selections within the Labour Party.

Commenting on Labour’s wider selection controversy, Neal Lawson, director of the progressive group Compass, told Byline Times: “Labour seems to have got more than it bargained for last week in the row over the attempt to exclude Diane Abbott and Faiza Shaheen as candidates. Hopefully the widespread backlash to these factional moves should draw a line under this whole saga.

“Labour must recognise that it will need this diversity and pluralism in Government to have any chance of weathering the political storm that will hit as soon as it enters Government.”

Lawson was himself suspended by the Labour party NEC over his alleged support for tactical voting for other parties, to unseat the Conervatives. 

The Labour Party was contacted for comment regarding McDaid’s selection. 


And Another One

Julian Vaughan, a train driver and ASLEF union activist, was the candidate in 2017 and 2019 in Bedfordshire North East. But when he applied for a winnable seat this time, he was instead “offered one of the safest Tory seats” in the UK (Vaughan isn’t naming the seat out of respect for the now-appointed candidate). [Update 4th June: This piece has been amended to remove an incorrect reference to a seat]

On May 23rd, he wrote on his blog: “After standing as a Labour candidate in the last two General Elections, when you are offered a candidacy in one of the safest Tory seats in the UK, it dawns on you rather quickly that your face just doesn’t fit and it is time to move on.

“So, after politely declining the opportunity to stand as a candidate, and with the freedom of someone who believes his time in politics is up, I am writing this from the perspective of a ‘critical friend’ who has been silent for too long on issues that matter to him, but who desperately wants a Labour Government. I write this with sadness rather than bitterness that I will not be a candidate in the General Election announced yesterday.

“Some have said that I have been treated quite shabbily, and I have to say that I do not disagree. However, I would rather look to the future rather than dwell on the past…

“Thank you to ASLEF and other unions for their support. Unions are a force for good in the country. Labour must treat them as such – they will need steadfast friends in what is likely to be a turbulent time ahead.”

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Compass Letter to the Labour Party Leadership

The latest revelations come after an influential group of progressive politicians, activists and organisations signed an open letter urging the Labour leadership to immediately end the factional suspension of candidates.

The letter, organised by cross-party campaigns group Compass, comes after Diane Abbott, Lloyd Russell-Moyle and Faiza Shaheen were all blocked from standing as Labour candidates in the general election this July. 

Diane Abbott has now been told she can be the Labour candidate – though as of Monday AM that appeared to have been thrown in doubt by an apparent tweet from her account blasting Sir Keir Starmer for “lies” over her treatment. The tweet was quickly deleted but not before being captured by BBC journalist Nick Eardley. 

Signatories to the Compass letter include former International Development secretary Clare Short, Momentum founder Jon Lansman, and left-wing columnist Andrew Fisher.

The letter reads: 

To win elections and to govern the country effectively Labour must be a broad church. This is how it won and governed in 1945, 1964 in 1997. At this critical election juncture, the suspension of candidates on the most dubious grounds is not only wrong, it is counter productive. It makes the party seem inward-looking and controlling. It feels far from the tolerant and open politics the country needs and wants and it will alienate many voters just when we need them most. 

If Labour is to win the election and then govern in all the complexities of the 21st Century it will require both agility and pluralism. A better future can only be negotiated not imposed. This is not just about Labour – it’s about putting country before party. It’s about the future of progressive politics and our democratic culture. 

As progressives of all stripes, we call on Keir Starmer to show leadership and bring an immediate end to these factional moves. He must unite the party around the project to both beat the Tories and govern the country for progressive ends.   

Byline Times needs your help to investigate disinformation and electoral exclusion as we head towards the 2024 General Election.

We’re asking for your help to keep track of dodgy campaigning this election, so if you spot anything that bears investigation, please email us at votewatch24@bylinetimes.com.

Signatories:

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The 2012 Facebook post Brian McDaid was ‘Barred’ Over

“In case anyone dares to question the [Palestine] protest please use any of these points.

“Which country in the Middle East has undeclared biological and chemical capabilities ?

“Which country in the Middle East has no outside inspections ?

“Which country in the Middle East jailed it’s nuclear whistleblower for 18 years ?

“Which country in the Middle East has blatantly ignored UN resolutions for 60 years, and continues to do so ?

“Which country in the Middle East breaks international treaties on the use of expanding ammunition ?

“Which country in the Middle East has studiously developed nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons ?

“Which country in the Middle East persistently flouts the Geneva Conventions, by routinely abusing the human rights of other citizens of the Middle East ?

“Which country in the Middle East routinely contravenes the basic principles of international humanitarian law, regarding the military targeting of civilians, and the subsequent denial of independent medical access to those casualties ?

“Which country in the Middle East refuses to accept the will, criticism and condemnation of the global community for it’s ruthless violence and military aggression against the Palestinians ?

“Which country in the Middle East uses disproportionate military aggression to suppress a sizable internal ethnic majority ?

“Which country in the Middle East deprives those same people, access to water, power, employment, freedom of movement and food ?

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“Which country in the Middle East is responsible for numerous acts of barbarity, war crimes, and atrocities including:


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