Fears of a hard-left takeover of Yorkshire council

Leeds Town Hall will be the setting for a special performance by the Leeds Festival Chorus and the Royal Northern Sinfonia this Saturday (s)
Leeds Town Hall will be the setting for a special performance by the Leeds Festival Chorus and the Royal Northern Sinfonia this Saturday (s)
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Hard left activists are attempting to manipulate Labour Party structures to get candidates aligned with their views selected for seats on a major Yorkshire council, raising concerns about a Momentum-style takeover.

A leaked email from Paul Stavris, secretary of the Local Campaign Forum (LCF) responsible for vetting candidates for Leeds City Council, discusses using the body to “ensure that left candidates have the maximum opportunity to be selected” and making sure “left interviewers saw ‘our’ candidates for interview”.

The Yorkshire Post understands that local ‘moderates’ are concerned that the tactics could be a precursor to a Momentum-style takeover of the council as seen in the bitter selection feud in Haringey, London, and have raised complaints with the party.

In the leaked email, Mr Stavris, who did not respond to a request for comment, talked about being part of a “loose caucus of left activists with mostly common aims, responsible formally to the mostly left LCF delegates and informally to the wider Momentum caucus in the city”.

When he and allies took control of the LCF, “we realised that we had a unique opportunity to place Momentum/left candidates in vacant council seats to form a bloc on the City Council, to help in the process of transforming the Labour group as well”.

A local Labour source said the email was a “worrying insight” into how the “important” and democratic LCF is being used.

“Party members – and by extension the voters of Leeds - need to be confident that the process is being run fairly and that the best possible candidates are being put forward. That should be based on merit and not on being a member of a particular clique.”

Tory MP for Pudsey Stuart Andrew said the email was “further proof that the hard left are taking over Labour”, adding: “What concerns me is that this is clearly a much wider plot to take control of the Labour group on the council too, something that will be damaging to the city reputation.

“Moderate Labour members have complained to me privately that these sort of groups are hijacking the party and that is worrying news.”