ALL hopeful Labour MPs and MSPs are to be put through a rigorous selection test before being allowed to stand, in a bid to sweep a new broom through the party after its 2011 defeat to the SNP.
Party members will be asked this week to put their names forward for selection for both Holyrood and Westminster, with only those who undertake a weekend election course able to offer their names as candidates.
The party says the aim of the new nationwide selection process is to increase the number of female and under-represented groups among those able to stand. Yesterday, around 100 prospective female candidates met in Glasgow.
The new programme copies the system adopted for the party’s council elections last year, which in Glasgow led to a number of serving councillors being deselected in favour of new faces.
For the Holyrood 2016 election, only candidates who have been approved by the party’s ruling national executive and who have gone through the candidate programme will be able to put their names forward to stand as an MSP.
Sitting MPs and MSPs will not have to go through the new procedure, but will have to win a ballot of local party figures before being able to stand again.
The move comes after the party suffered a landslide defeat in the 2011 Scottish elections, prompting a wholesale review of the party’s structures.
Party chiefs have said they want to find fresh blood for both the 2015 Westminster elections and 2016 Scottish Parliament elections, in order to convince voters they have moved on from defeat.
Shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran said yesterday: “It is about saying to constituencies and to people that we are getting the most skilled and impressive of their generation. We want that new energy and that new experience.”