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Tuesday, 8 January, 2002, 11:52 GMT
Seddon 'fury' over by-election snub
The late Sir Ray Powell, MP for Ogmore
The death of Sir Ray Powell leaves a safe Labour seat
A member of Labour's national executive has said he will challenge a decision to leave him off the shortlist of candidates to fight the Westminster by-election at Ogmore in south Wales.

Mark Seddon - the editor of the left-wing weekly newspaper Tribune - claimed he was being punished for his outspoken views about British policy in Afghanistan and private financing of public services.

Tribune editor Mark Seddon
Mark Seddon says he's being punished for his radical views
In response the Labour Party chairman Charles Clarke said Mr Seddon's failure to make the shortlist had nothing to do with any pre-conceptions, political or otherwise, and there was no right of appeal.

Mr Clarke said the party preferred to find local candidates for by-elections, but added that the Tribune editor had performed poorly during the selection process.

"Only his national reputation ensured that he went through to the second stage of interview," said Mr Clarke.

"His performance in the second stage of the interview process was equally poor."

Mr Seddon was one of more than 40 people who had applied for the nomination to succeed the late Sir Ray Powell as MP for the safe Labour seat.

The selection panel met on Monday night to draw up a shortlist of four candidates to be put to constituency members.

They have been confirmed as:

  • social security officer Margaret Frayne;
  • Lord Mayor of Cardiff Russell Goodway;
  • lecturer Huw Irranca-Davies;
  • EC strategist Jan Royall.

    Mr Seddon admitted he had no local connections with the area but claimed he represented an important strand of Labour thinking.

    "The tradition I come from within the party is actually very popular in a constituency such as Ogmore - the Tribune, Michael Foot, Aneurin Bevan tradition," he said.

    Cardiff Lord Mayor Russell Goodway
    Russell Goodway: A contender
    "Bevan once said that a thinking person is a dangerous person - I can't help feel that what they're saying is you've got to toe the line 100 percent or you're not welcome."

    Mr Seddon urged Labour party members to appeal to their leaders if they felt they were being denied a broad choice of candidates.

    He has won backing from outside of Wales - Hackney South and Shoreditch MP Brian Sedgemore said he regarded the decision as "contemptible."

    Having known Mark Seddon for two decades, I can honestly say he would make a better MP than about 300 of the current occupants," he said.

    "Whatever his performance before the selection committee, Mark Seddon is a charismatic character with a first-class brain and I can only assume that the control freaks have been at it again."

    Mr Sedgmore said Labour party chairman Charles Clarke and Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy were on the selection panel.

    He added the pair had "debased and demeaned themselves" and the party.

    Patry nominations

    The by-election - only the second of this parliament - was forced by the death last month of the sitting member Sir Ray Powell.

    At the general election, he held Ogmore with a majority of more than 14,000.

    On Monday, Plaid Cymru put forward miners' union Nacods Welsh secretary Bleddyn Hancock forward as its preferred candidate.

    The Conservatives will also select their candidate for the seat on Wednesday, at a hustings meeting in the village hall in Pencoed.

    The Liberal Democrats say they hope to have selected a candidate by the end of next week.

    No date has yet been set for the by-election, but there has been speculation the vote will take place on 7 February.

    BBC Wales's Rhuanedd Richards
    "The by-election has already caused a row within Labour."
    Mark Seddon
    "This does send a very poor signal"
    Selection panel member Brian Curtis
    "He just didn't measure up"
    BBC Wales's Guto Thomas
    "Mark Seddon's argument is that members are denied choice"
    See also:

    17 Dec 01 | Wales
    Funeral for veteran MP Sir Ray
    08 Dec 01 | Wales
    Tributes to 'valued ally'
    09 Dec 01 | Wales
    Veteran Labour MP dies
    30 Jun 99 | UK Politics
    Welsh Labour old guard fights on
    23 Nov 01 | UK Politics
    Labour victory in Ipswich by-election
    19 Nov 01 | UK Politics
    Death of the by-election?
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