Some extracts from an article written by Paul Waugh and published in the Independent on 17 February 2001:
Blair faced more accusations of "control freakery" last night when
activists claimed that Labour was preparing to parachute a cabinet aide into
one of the party's safest seats at the election.
'The constituency of Leigh in Lancashire had its selection process suspended
this week when it looked as though the local party would exclude Andy Burnham, a special adviser to
Chris Smith, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport…
'Officials from the Labour North West regional party intervened when Leigh
Constituency Labour Party's executive committee voted on Tuesday for a
shortlist of just four candidates...
'However, Kevin Lees, a regional official, warned the constituency party that
unless it backed a larger shortlist of six or eight, he would suspend the
'When the local members ignored his advice, Mr Lees formally suspended
proceedings and ordered that the party's ruling National Executive Committee
should draw up the shortlist instead.
'The sanction of imposing a shortlist is a tough measure, normally used when
there are allegations of infighting or militancy in a local party.
'Local members are convinced that the reason Millbank wants a larger shortlist
is to include Mr Burnham and Jenny Smith, a former aide to Bill Morris, the
general secretary of the T&G union…
'An angry party member told the Independent: "This is jobs for the boys,
and it's making a mockery of democracy. We've had our mines closed and the area
desperately needs regeneration, and we need a local person to represent local
people. The views of the local constituency are being overruled by a regional
body about their choice of future Labour candidate. It stinks to high