Portsmouth Labour Party tries to elect new leader - by tossing a coin

Sue Castillon

Sue Castillon

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BIZARRE scenes unfolded at a Portsmouth Labour Party meeting as members tossed a coin to try to decide who their next chairman should be.

The party’s latest AGM saw members balloted over the appointment of either Sue Castillon or Graham Heaney as its next chairman.

Graham Heaney

Graham Heaney

The first ballot resulted in a draw, so the executive decided to flip a coin to reveal a winner, much to the dismay of the floor – and so more ballots were held.

Another two ballots were held, and still neither candidate could gain a majority, so members gave up and adjourned the meeting in the hope a new chair can be secured in future.

But Ms Castillon, who stood for Labour at this year’s general election, insists the situation does not throw the party into jeopardy.

She said it was vital a chairman was appointed given the 2016 local elections are six months away.

...time was going on, we had to do an election of other officer positions, someone said they had to go back home for care care, and so there was an agreement that we abandon the meeting and adjourn.

Portsmouth Labour Party member Sue Castillon

Ms Castillon said: ‘The coin flip happened after the first round of balloting.

‘It was a dead heat on the first ballot. Graham got it on the toss of a coin. It was then challenged by members, they were not happy with that result. So we had two more ballots, and yet it was coming out equal all the time.

‘By that time, time was going on, we had to do an election of other officer positions, someone said they had to go back home for child care, and so there was an agreement that we abandon the meeting and adjourn.

She added: ‘There isn’t an issue. We have had a doubling of membership, particularly with the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, and the new members are all raring to get out on the doorstep.’

The leader of the Labour group on Portsmouth City Council John Ferrett tweeted about the ‘incredible scenes’ and said supporters were more unhappy Ms Castillon had lost the coin flip than anything else.

Mr Heaney was not available for comment.

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