Please don't take this personally Bob and John, I like you really. I am in an aggressive mood these days - I have already had a go at Mary Reid this weekend!
I'm sorry but I think both Bob Shaw and John Dixon are talking complete cobblers about the Crewe and Nantwich by-election PPC selection.
If the local party has been over-ridden, then where are the complaints from the local party chair, the local party executive members or any local party members ???? Or is the assumption that Bob Shaw and John Dixon are the only LibDem members with their cojones intact?
It is normal procedure in the rules of the constitution for a re-selection to take place on the occasion of a by-election. This happened in Bromley and Chiselhurst when the existing PPC was not selected, Ben Abbots was.
The short-listing process and the hustings process is still carried out by the local party in conjunction with the returning officer. The short listing committee contains local party members - only, normally the returning officer also attends. The hustings is attended by local party members and chaired by the returning officer.
Chris Rennard no doubt advised the local party executive. (But then he has had experience of umpteen by-elections.)
But the short listing decision is still with the local party and the local party members could have voted to "re-open nominations" if they were unhappy with the two candidates presented at the hustings. (There has to be an option of "re-open nominations" on the ballot paper if there are one or two candidates).
I echo the other commenters on Bob and John's blogs. The subsequent behaviour of Mr Godwin, resigning from the party and sending a letter to Labour MPs, may give us a clue as to why he was not selected.
To say the selection is a result of "political correctness" is nonsense. It is a result of the local party choosing someone with the skills to fight a by-election. The fair rules of the constitution have still been followed. Cowley Street cannot parachute in a candidate. It is physically impossible without suspending the whole constitution of the Liberal Democrats, which would require an emergency national conference of the whole party.
A by-election requires a really bomb-proof candidate and often the existing PPC isn't suitable.