THE trigger process, in which Labour Party members in Hove and Portslade decide whether to retain their current MP as the party’s candidate at the next election or move to full open selection (in which the current MP will also be a candidate) has just been announced.

The dates are November 2 and 9, as reported by The Argus last week.

To Labour Party members, this is a very normal process; a process of party democracy in which they vet candidates so that they can present their best to the Hove electorate at the General Election.

But we also fully recognise that many people are jittery about the trigger process being used for partisan aims.

Hence it is important to explain to people why the Labour Party (and indeed the Tory party and every major party in Western Europe and in the US) has a process like this.

Firstly, brilliant new candidates may come through. It is true that the current MP has represented himself well in parliament and in the constituency.

But it is also true that other people could have been just as good, or better, at that job if we gave them a chance.

In a selection process, members have an opportunity to interrogate candidates to determine who the very best person for the job is.

It was a vibrant and open contest of ideas, very much like the selection process, which produced the brilliant US congresswoman, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez.

Secondly, a full selection process allows Labour members to make a clear statement to the public about what we represent as a local party.

We are all impressed by the work of the climate, the renters’, the precarious workers’ and the anti-austerity movements that are blossoming all around us.

If members choose a candidate who backs all those movements, members would be saying to those movements “we back you”. Additionally, the debate of ideas, which takes place in the full selection process will present our party as the vibrant and energetic party of ideas that it clearly is.

Thirdly, whichever candidate (including the current MP) is selected through the full selection process will be able to campaign in the General Election knowing that they have the support of their whole party.

The conflicts that we see elsewhere between MPs and their members is a result of many new members feeling that they have not had a say in who the MP representing Labour is.

The current Hove MP was elected in May 2015, but the majority of Labour members have only joined the party from July 2015 onwards.

It is in the current MP’s interest to unite the local party by getting a fresh mandate from members, including new members.

And lastly, democracy is at the heart of the Labour Party’s selection process. We cannot call Boris Johnson’s act of proroguing Parliament undemocratic if we ourselves hypocritically don’t live up to the highest democratic standards in our own party.

Conservative party members in Hove and Kemp Town have recently selected their candidates and we respect them for that. We would be failing in our democratic duties if we don’t give ourselves the possibility of carrying out a robust selection process.

None of these points precludes the current MP emerging as the candidate that members select at that full selection process.

In some ways, it is very likely that they will emerge as the candidate because they are a known quantity. In that event, members can satisfy themselves that they have done their duty of selecting the best candidate to go to bat for the people of Hove.

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