This article below went on The Guardian website at 17.10 and within ten minutes it was pulled from the guardian news site and sent down the memory hole.
It makes very interesting reading - Mandelson fixing the selection process, the parachuted in Labour candidate upset that local candidates were barred from the selection process and the fact that they expect Simon Darby to win in Stoke.
Now I wonder why they would try and make this story vanish.
Has Labour handed Stoke to the BNP? | Mark Seddon
With the BNP on the march in Stoke-on-Trent, why has Lord Mandelson parachuted in his chosen Labour candidate?
When New Labour was in its pomp and Peter Mandelson memorably remarked that those Labour supporters who didn’t much like the new order would still back Labour because they “would have nowhere else to go”, I wonder if he had the good city of Stoke-on-Trent in mind?
Somehow, I doubt it, for in recent years many working-class Labour voters in Stoke have been going somewhere else – notably to the British National party. Before a local defection yesterday, the BNP had eight councillors. Ten years ago, Labour held the city with 60 councillors. Today there are barely 13 – and only two of them in the cauldron that is the Stoke Central constituency.
Now, with an election barely weeks away, the BNP are standing their deputy leader, Simon Darby, in the constituency. Flush with European parliament money and smarter in his campaign techniques, the city is a key target for Darby, who not so long ago was pictured taking the fascist salute in Italy.
So what has been Labour’s answer to the serried ranks of the far right? Why, it has been to hand them a gift they can only have dreamed of – a gerrymandered selection of a new Labour candidate. For when the respected local MP, Mark Fisher, decided to step down on health grounds a few weeks ago, instead of drawing up a broad-based list of candidates for local Labour members to choose from, Lord Mandelson, ever the plutocrat, simply made the choice for them.
I doubt that Mandelson’s chosen son, Tristram Hunt, will much thank him for this. Indeed the poor fellow has publicly pronounced his regret that tomorrow night’s hustings in the city will comprise him, and two other outsiders no one in the city has ever heard of. I think he is genuine. Labour’s NEC panel did what was asked of it. There are no locals on the list, no women and the trade union frontrunner, Byron Taylor, mysteriously didn’t make it onto the final shortlist. I should declare an interest. Against my better judgment, and believing that somehow things had miraculously changed in the post-Blair era, I applied. I was rejected on the grounds that “Since he is/has been working in New York, he cannot be seen as local”.
I left New York two years ago. Coincidentally, my old New York friend Peter Gerry, whose antecedent, the US vice president Elbridge Gerry, famously put the “gerry” into “gerrymandering”, by rigging the New York state electoral boundaries a couple of hundred years back, would take his hat off to Mandelson and those who went along with the fixing of Stoke. Party insiders claim that Harriet Harman played a role too, in return for Mandelson’s support for one or two of her favoured sisters in the last-minute flurry of resignations to come. She was supposed to be part of the NEC’s “special selections” panel, but didn’t make the meeting.
Stoke-on-Trent has of course been Labour for almost as long as anyone can remember, returning three MPs at the last election. But as Newsnight’s Paul Mason incisively reported a few evenings ago, the city is a classic example of all that went wrong for traditional industries and working people during the Thatcher years, while the sticking plaster of the Blair years is beginning to peel. Very few skilled, relatively well-paid jobs followed the closure of the pits and the potteries, and the disastrous attempt to install directly elected mayors in the city was local Stoke Labour’s undoing – ably assisted by some asinine interventions by the party’s Midlands region to discipline members for not wanting one in the first place. It is hardly surprising that the BNP are on the march in Stoke – a dark portent of what may come in similar towns that are increasingly coming to resemble the rotten boroughs of old.
And Stoke is beginning to follow in a line of grim local political fixes – both major parties are at it. If one were cynical, it might also be possible to discern another pattern – of the old discredited political class replicating themselves. Even if the Stokies don’t rebel at tomorrow night’s hustings, and they find themselves with the candidate ordained by his lordship, the real battle, to halt the BNP, will have to be joined – hopefully by people of all parties and, increasingly, those of none.