130 Labour Party members in Stroud, with a combined membership of almost 1,300 years, have signed a letter to leader Keir Starmer demanding council leader Doina Cornell is allowed to stand for Parliamentary selection.
Doina Cornell, a councillor for twelve years and leader of Stroud District Council for four, had the backing of seven trade unions but a five-member national panel ruled, without providing evidence or any consultation with local party members, she failed to meet the “high bar” expected of candidates.
The decision means local Labour Party members have been denied a chance to vote for her to be selected. A two-person shortlist has instead been imposed on local members. One of those on the shortlist, local GP Simon Opher, has signed the letter.
It has also been signed by members of all branches, councillors from Gloucestershire County Council, Stroud District Council, town and parish councillors, and members of the local party’s executive committee.
The letter to Keir Starmer and David Evans, General Secretary of the Labour Party reads: “The decision to prohibit Doina from standing is wrong and we fear will fatally damage our chances of regaining Stroud for Labour; surely something that should be our priority.
“We ask you as a matter of urgency to reconsider this decision. Let her, like all those who want to represent Stroud, put their case. Let us members make our democratic choice and then, whoever wins, we can galvanise behind them and win this seat back for Labour.”
The full text of the letter is:
Dear David and Sir Keir,
We are members of the Labour Party with a combined membership of more than 1,071 years. Our constituency is one of those that is key to helping you win the majority at the next General Election the voters of Stroud and the country need.
Yesterday we learned that Doina, the leader of the Labour-led administration in Stroud, had been barred from standing in the selection to be our next MP.
As members who passionately believe our country needs a Labour government, we believe banning Doina from being considered is bad for local democracy and bad for the local party – the people who will ultimately deliver the feet on the ground to win Stroud back.
Firstly local democracy. Doina has led the Labour Group for five years and is leader of Stroud District Council. She is a hugely recognised figure in the district, effectively the constituency. Despite the difficulties of running a council with no overall control, she has managed to navigate those difficulties to deliver a strong, unified group that has delivered Labour values to the people of Stroud.
As leader of the Labour Group Doina has galvanised the party, elected members and most significantly, the voters. Our vote has increased year on year. Last year, her campaign bucked the national trend of council results – Stroud ended up with more councillors than they had before the election.
If anyone deserves to be considered as a prospective candidate for Stroud it is Doina. Her exemplary track record is evidence of that.
Secondly, the decision to exclude Doina is bad for local party democracy. Elections and selections are best served by members having the broadest choice of candidates. Banning Doina removes a successful, well-respected woman from the list of candidates. Members, who knock the doors, deliver the leaflets and raise the funds, deserve to have the broadest church of candidates to select from. Sadly officials from the party are limiting that choice for more than 1,000 members of Stroud CLP.
Nationally and locally the Labour Party has gone through a traumatic time since its defeat in 2019. To win a majority we need candidates who can win. A cornerstone of our Party’s democracy is local parties can choose their candidates without interference or favour from Labour Party officials.
The decision to prohibit Doina from standing is wrong and we fear will fatally damage our chances of regaining Stroud for Labour; surely something that should be our priority.
We ask you as a matter of urgency to reconsider this decision. Let her, like all those who want to represent Stroud, put their case. Let us members make our democratic choice and then, whoever wins, we can galvanise behind them and win this seat back for Labour.