Ballot papers are currently being sent out for the Labour selection in Leyton & Wanstead and I’ve made up my mind – I’m going to be casting my vote for John Cryer. I was unable to attend the hustings yesterday so I’m going on the basis of the materials sent to members, e-mail communications I have received and – importantly – on the basis of the opinions of Labour people in the constituency I trust.
So why opt for John Cryer?
In short, John strikes me as the person who is best placed to sort things out in Leyton & Wanstead. Harry Cohen was a hard working and diligent local campaigner and John, having previously been MP for Hornchurch (and indeed a good one as far as I can determine), has the relevant experience. With the local council in a mess Leyton & Wanstead needs a tough, strong-willed campaigner willing to stand up for constituents and I’m not convinced that any of the other candidates are the right for that.
The local Labour Party also needs someone to rally around, someone who will motivate the long suffering activists to get out on the streets during the election campaign, and I think that John can do that.
As for the other candidates, it strikes me that Tristram Hunt will for sure go far, but he’s a victim of the UK political system without a separation of executive and legislative – undoubtedly sharp, but probably not cut out for representing people in the constituency’s run down housing estates. Sophie Linden gives the impression of competence, but I cannot bring myself to support someone who worked so long for David Blunkett and his illiberal policies.
The others – Terence Paul, Ahmad Shazad and Rokhsana Fiaz – have not said anything in their campaign literature that has risen above general platitudes about inclusion and communication. Fiaz probably wins the prize for the most misguided statement in the campaign literature: “To launch a campaign website and also use social media to build contacts and engage young voters” – yet she doesn’t have a website for her campaign and searching for her in Facebook and Twitter delivers no results!
There are undoubted downsides to John Cryer – here I am, a feminist, someone who’s keen to see the representation of ethnic minorities in our political system, opting for the middle aged white guy… I do that with a heavy heart, but Leyton & Wanstead needs a good, strong candidate and John’s the best of the six candidates.
[UPDATE – 27.02.2010] Seems that Cryer has won! Woo hoo!
@Jessie – yes, I am aware of this. It’s rather tiresome. I am no longer living in Leyton & Wanstead though, so can’t influence Cryer on this now.
You know of course that Cryer is an out-and-out Eurosceptic who’s been very busy promoting the People’s Pledge campaign for an In/Out referendum, whose basic tenets/premise I believe you devoted a blog post to ‘debunking’ as it were?
John Cryer deserves to win in Leyton and Wanstead because he is the most talented candidate in the race. People in Leyton and Wanstead want a successor worthy of Harry Cohen and Cryer’s the only credible one. If Labour were serious about a BME candidate winning in Leyton and Wanstead they wouldn’t have left Patrick Vernon and Kingsley Abrams off the long list. Labour HQ want Tristram Hunt and so they put BME candidates on the shortlist they knew would have little appeal in L & W. In the circumstances, therefore, it’s got to be Cryer. A Black candidate does not always mean that that person will actually care about Black people, Sharon Grant would have done more for Black people in Tottenham than Lammy every has.
@Bianca – if Terry is a thinker, or indeed someone who really delivers things, then this is very, very far from the case in the campaign materials. He has no concrete plans for the election campaign, no concrete plans for what to do about the fact that Waltham Forest council is a mess and local people need a strong MP, and no plans for what he would do were he elected as a member of parliament.
As for your last line – if you cared to take a look at other things I have written about the Leyton & Wanstead selection, or indeed this blog in general, then you will see that I do not make up my mind about things on a whim. I try to be as considered as I can, and at the end of the day, have to take some sort of choice. I am genuinely sad that I am not more content with the choice of BME candidates in this seat, and have backed many BME candidates for things in the past. I also do website work for Rushanara Ali and Chuka Umunna, two of Labour’s best known BME PPCs.
So in short, I stand by what I write 100%. You might disagree with my conclusions, but stating that it’s not well thought out is just plain wrong.
I have no idea what Terry Paul has written in his campaign material and if, as you say, he has written nothing but “general platitudes” he’s selling himself short.
I know Terry to be an honest, hard working and down to earth man. He’s a thinker and if he commits to something he gives it 100%.
As a young black woman, I read your final paragraph with some dismay. Here’s a suggestion: instead of opting for the “middle aged white guy” (I wonder if John would be happy with this label) because you don’t know enough about the BME candidates, why don’t you be a bit proactive, and give Terry and the others a call? You may change your mind; better still, you may be inspired to write a more balanced (and better thought out) blog post.
The people of Hornchurch lost a very fine, hardworking constituency MP and the House of Commons lost a sensible, independent minded left-wing voice, so there are several negitaive impacts the loss of John Cryer had on Parliament, Matthew.
As a trade unionist I tend think ensuring the collective voices of working people are heard by Parliamentarians (via their unions) is very valuable work , which is what John Cryer did as political officer for Aslef and does now at Unite. The affiliated unions are integral to the Labour Party so I am concerned to see a party member (which I assume you are Matthew) seem to suggest what they do is not worthwhile. As a supporter of John I would not dream of ‘dissing’ other candidates in this way, perhaps you could refrain from ‘slagging off’ a decent man.
If John Cryer becomes the PPC I believe his personal qualities (his charm, intelligence, loyalty and sensie of humour, as well as his appetite for hard work) will help bring Leyton and Wanstead members together and motivate them for the upcoming campaign.
@Matthew – while I respect your opinion, I am far from convinced that Linden is the best person to sort out Labour in Leyton and Wanstead. Cryer’s experience more than matches her experience and it strikes me he is tough enough and indpendently minded enough to deal with the many challenges in the CLP.
No, there’s a constituency called Leyton and Wanstead. There’s a place called Leyton, and another place called Wanstead. They are divided by a common roundabout 😀
Seems a pretty flimsy reason to vote for John Cryer and equally flimsy reason not to vote for Sophie Linden, to be honest.
I’m not aware of John Cryer’s absence from the Commons of having had any significant negative impact, or of him having done anything particularly worthwhile in the intervening years.
As for Sophie having worked for David Blunkett – well I didn’t see a significant change of policy post-Blunkett, just a succession of less capable Home Secs.
Sophie and Terry are both excellent candidates, whom I have worked with before but for me, Sophie’s experience as a local councillor make her the stronger candidate.
There’s a place called Leyton & Wanstead?