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Parties race to choose candidates

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Britain’s political parties are in a race against time to get candidates in place for the snap election. They had been working on the assumption that there would not be an election until May 2020, but now have just three weeks to put names forward.

Any British, Irish or eligible Commonwealth citizen over the age of 18 – who meets the qualification criteria – can stand, provided they can scrape together a £500 deposit. The deadline for submitting an application is Wednesday, 11 May.

Here is how the parties’ efforts are going:

Labour

Labour has said all of its 229 MPs will be automatically re-selected – they had until 17:00 BST on Thursday, April 20, to say whether they wanted to stand again or not.

The party will advertise any vacancies created by retirements on their website, but the deadline for applications is Sunday, 23 April.

All Labour candidates in England will be selected by members of the party’s ruling National Executive Committee and regional board members.

Local Labour Party branches, who normally get to choose candidates, will not get a say “due to the exceptional snap general election circumstances”.

The party says this will not set any precedent for future elections – but it removes the prospect of MPs being deselected by ballots of local party members.

Labour in Scotland and Wales will shortly announce their own selection plans.


Conservatives

The Conservative Party has also changed its normal selection procedures and is short-listing candidates for target seats without inviting applications.

“Inevitably it has to be a somewhat shorter process than we usually use,” says a leaked letter to would-be Tory candidates published by Conservative Home.

The party’s 330 MPs will be re-selected, unless they have decided to stand down.

In target seats and those where MPs are standing down, local party members will get to choose from a shortlist of three candidates drawn up by the party’s central office, according to Conservative Home.

In non-target seats, candidates will be appointed by central office after consultation with local party officials.


The Scottish National Party

All 54 of the SNP’s existing MPs are expected to stand again.

Two MPs – Michelle Thompson and Natalie McGarry- have been suspended by the party since 2015.

The party’s National Executive Committee is meeting on Saturday to decide their fate.

The three seats in Scotland not held by the SNP are thought to have candidates in place.


The Liberal Democrats

The party selected 326 candidates last year and a further 70 or so before the snap election was announced.

It advertised for the remaining vacancies and is hoping to have candidates in all 650 seats by early next week.

All candidates are selected by local parties, in line with national party guidelines on gender balance and ethnic diversity.

Regional party boards are also expected to consider LGBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) candidates for winnable seats.

One Lib Dem MP, John Pugh, is standing down. Party members in his Southport constituency will select a candidate from an all-women shortlist.


UK Independence Party

A UKIP spokesman told the BBC: “Since the announcement of the snap election, we have been rapidly gearing up for the campaign and we are confident we have the resources in place to fight it.

“Our candidate selection process will begin shortly, with candidates being adopted over the course of the next week, and we will be fielding candidates nationwide.”


The Green Party of England and Wales

The Greens stood in over 90% of seats in England and Wales last time, a party spokeswoman said.

She said local parties were currently selecting candidates but added: “A number are also in negotiations about potentially pulling their candidates if any electoral alliances are arranged.”


Plaid Cymru

The party, which currently has three MPs, is selecting its candidates next week – the choice is made by local party members. It aims to stand in all 40 seats being contested in Wales.


Northern Ireland parties

With talks still going on at Stormont about restoring devolved government, none of the parties is thought to have selected candidates yet for the general election.

BBC News – UK Politics

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