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LABOUR TO INTRODUCE INTEGRITY TEST FOR COUNCILLORS

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A new scheme to screen potential candidates for local elections it to be introduced by the Labour party, reports Th...
A new scheme to screen potential candidates for local elections it to be introduced by the Labour party, reports The Guardian (p5).

The procedure, called Project 99, will be used to select all candidates for next year's elections and will ask prospective candidates about their past and, indirectly about their politics.

They will be asked if they would ever vote against their group whip and the process will require candidates to sign a declaration of willingness to abide by the party's code of conduct.

Labour members will have to commit themselves to the best value programme and undertake to meet the standards laid down by the Nolan committee relating to financial probity and any rent or council tax arrears would lead to automatic disqualification from the list.

A Labour spokesman said: 'We're not vetting people on their politics, but if they're going to be selected as Labour candidates we need to make sure they have a grip on the practicalities.'

The questionnaire has already been piloted for candidates in Lambeth and Lweisham LBCs for this Thursday's council elections (see LGC 1 May).

Several sitting councillors were deselected in Lambeth after they failed the 'quality control' element of the new procedure.

Penny Chalton, who is co-ordinating Project 99 and is a member of the Lambeth Labour party, denied that the questionnaire was used to weed out dissidents. 'We asked candidates if they agreed with the aims and objectives of Labour and the Lambeth Labour group,' she said.

'And if they didn't that was a mark against them. We would expect them to follow the party line.'

Another Labour spokesman said the new procedure, which has been approved by the national executive, would be a 'gold standard of practice'.

The Conservatives are said to be considering a similar scheme and have looked at psychometric testing as a means of assessing candidates' characters.

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