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Sal Speaks - welcome to our new candidates!

Since July's newsletter our political world in the UK has continued to be turbulent and totally unpredictable. The coronation by Tory MPs of Theresa May as Prime Minister, and the current leadership contests in UKIP, the Greens and especially in Labour just shows what extraordinary times we are living in.

That's why I am so delighted that over 18,000 new members have joined the party since the EU Referendum. I know from the many new member events round the country that we have passionate pro-European and internationalist members who will help us in our fight to maintain Britain's role in Europe.

Because of the political turmoil, with a new Prime Minister with no electoral mandate, and one who voted Remain, there has been considerable talk of an early snap general election, possibly as early as the Autumn.

This is compounded with Labour falling ever further in the polls. Even Tom Watson, Labour's Deputy Leader, said last Wednesday in the Guardian “I think it’s highly likely there’ll be an early election... If you were Theresa May, why wouldn’t you? Honestly, why wouldn’t you?"

Your Federal Executive (FE) sought advice on how seriously we should take this, and we are, as you would expect, making preparations just in case. The FE has worked with the English, Scottish and Welsh parties, as well as the other Federal Committees to ensure that we have candidates in place, and an outline manifesto.

Thank you if you responded last month to let our Policy team know what were the most important things you wanted to see in a manifesto. Thousands of you have responded and the manifesto team meets again next week. We also have preparations in place, if we need them, for emergency arrangements for conference.

The largest and most urgent task has been to get candidates in place seats under emergency procedures. Given the short timescale, many of our top seats have selected using by-election rules, and in others appointments are being made. I am already seeing selected candidates campaigning in their seats and using social media.

In addition, close to 100 new, enthusiastic candidates have been approved over the last month ready to go straight into seats, amongst them a large number of candidates from under represented groups (women; black, Asian and minority ethnic groups; LGBTI; and disabled candidates). I know that there are still a large number of people awaiting assessment and work will go on to increase our pool of candidates for Westminster. I am particularly encouraged that many of our newer members have put themselves forward for assessment and are now approved parliamentary candidates.

None of this has been easy, and I want to put on record the thanks of the party to staff, returning officers and assessment officers as well as shortlisting committees and officers in local, regional, state and the federal parties for making this happen.

In the mean time we continue with business as usual. We meet for Federal Conference in Brighton on Saturday 17 September, and there is still time to sign up if you haven't done so already - I hope to see you there!

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