The Labour Party has hit back at claims of rule breaches and irregularities in its candidate selection process for the recent council elections in Enfield.

Members of Southgate Constituency Labour Party (CLP) last week (May 24) overwhelmingly backed an emergency motion calling on the national party to investigate a selection process that at one stage saw five sitting black and minority ethnic (BAME) councillors deselected.

The motion was passed by 42 votes to two, with four abstentions.

Leaked documents – including internal letters, emails and motions – show serious concerns were raised within the local Labour membership about the candidate selection process for the local elections and the eleventh-hour leadership bid that led new council leader Cllr Nesil Caliskan to victory.

But a Labour Party spokesperson said: “Labour candidates are democratically selected by local Labour Party members. We are satisfied that this process took place in line with Labour’s rules and procedures and any suggestion to the contrary is unfounded.”

Southgate CLP raised concerns over “irregularities” in the selection process that led to the inclusion of a new category of candidate named “potentials”.

It said certain questions were not asked of these candidates – questions that would normally be essential to ensuring they were qualified to be councillors.

A senior local Labour Party official said this meant candidates were put forward as appropriate for election even though there were serious question marks about their suitability.

The CLP’s concerns were focused on secretary of the Local Campaign Forum (LCF) Nesil Caliskan and procedures secretary Ian Hamilton, both of whom played a senior role in administering the candidate interview process.

The local Labour official said: “The process Enfield Labour Party went through to select its councillors was flawed and open to inappropriate interference. Cllr Caliskan has consistently failed to answer questions about the part she played in it.

“I call on the national Labour Party to intervene now.”

Following an audit of the interview process, complaints were raised about the way it was being handled by Cllr Caliskan and Mr Hamilton, and members of the LCF drew up a list of 27 questions for them to answer – but the officers refused to engage with them and the questions went unanswered.

The questions posed by LCF members include why essential questions, relating to their communication skills and the length of time they had been involved in Labour activism, were not asked of candidates.

LCF members also queried why interviewers did not routinely complete assessment forms – despite receiving instructions to do so.

As a result of the apparent discrepancies, the LCF withdrew its endorsement from nine candidates listed as ‘potentials’.

In addition, BAME councillors and candidates wrote to Enfield LCF alleging “serious procedural impropriety” in the selection process and calling for it to be re-run.

Cllr Caliskan became the youngest local authority leader in London when she was voted in at Enfield Council’s annual general meeting (AGM) on May 23 – despite having only three years’ experience as a councillor.

The 29-year-old ousted long-serving Labour leader Doug Taylor in a shock victory at the local party’s AGM on May 14.

Enfield Independent: Cllr Nesil Caliskan

Upon learning of the eleventh-hour leadership challenge, which was only mounted shortly after local elections on May 3, Southgate CLP passed a motion in support of Cllr Taylor and stating that Cllr Caliskan “does not enjoy the support of the party membership in Southgate”.

But the challenge went ahead – despite the absence of a leadership hustings and the statement of an alternative policy agenda by Cllr Caliskan – and she won the resulting vote by 24 votes to 22 after a secret ballot of councillors.

Cllr Caliskan would not directly address questions about the candidate selection process.

She said: “The Labour group have been democratically elected by members and the people of Enfield, and will be working together to deliver services to people in Enfield.

“Any questions about the selection process have already been answered by the Labour Party.”