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Final decision due on Cynon Valley selection

Ann Clwyd changed her mind about standing down but now faces a selection vote Photo: PA, Dominic Lipinski

The Labour Party's National Executive Committee will make a final decision later about the controversial process of choosing a parliamentary candidate for the Cynon Valley where the sitting MP Ann Clwyd has changed her mind about retiring.

Labour chiefs have insisted that she must face competition from other hopefuls. Her earlier decision to quit kick-started the party's rules on choosing candidates. In any case, the decision's been taken out of local party members' hands because they'd refused to run the contest with an all-women shortlist.

They argued that they have a strong record of choosing female candidates to be MPs, AMs and councillors while other constituencies who'd never selected women candidates were allowed to use open shortlists.

Normally a Labour MP who'd decided to stand again could expect automatic reselection unless a trigger ballot was held to gauge support for opening up the contest. I understand that Ann Clwyd believes that that's what should happen now that she's decided not to retire.

But last week a sub committee of Labour's NEC ruled that a full selection should take place, pitting Ann Clwyd against other hopefuls.

Some have seen it as an attempt to block her return to parliament next year because of her high-profile criticism of NHS performance.

However Welsh Labour sources have dismissed what they call 'conspiracy theories,' insisting that the party is simply following through its internal procedures. A spokesman said:

Under established procedures a full selection takes place where a sitting MP announces their intention to stand down. The selection will begin later this month.

– Welsh Labour spokesperson

Privately Labour chiefs are said to be confident that today's meeting of the National Executive Committee will ratify the decision but in principle it could overturn it.

Ann Clwyd is refusing to comment. She'll be watching the result with interest and will then have another choice: to put herself up for selection for her own seat and risk the humiliation of not being chosen or withdraw from the race.

She's made it clear that she feels she has much more to achieve in politics, particularly with her NHS campaigning.

Will she carry that on outside the Commons? She could hope for a peerage.

Not discussed so far is the nuclear option is standing as an independent. That would be history repeating itself as an all-woman shortlist triggered a chain of events that cost Labour Blaenau Gwent in 2005.