Posts Tagged ‘by-election’

When it comes to selections, meet the new boss. Same as the old boss

17/03/2017, 12:02:57 PM

There are allegations of direct interference from Jeremy Corbyn’s office in the process to select a candidate for the Manchester Gorton by-election.

Local members report they are being called and urged to back Sam Wheeler, a Corbyn loyalist, from ‘the leader’s office.’

This would mark a new departure in terms of leadership interference in a selection battle.

Although both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown exerted influence behind the scenes to support favoured candidates, they were never as blatant as Jeremy Corbyn appears to be in Gorton.

After struggling to insert favoured candidates in both the Copeland and Stoke Central by-elections, it seems the Corbynistas are going all-out to shoe-horn Wheeler into the nomination.

This comes as the Guido Fawkes website reports comments Wheeler made in a blog, where he claimed the armed forces helped to ‘to shore up a waning sense of national identity and importance.’

There are also rumours flying around that a deal among Asian Muslim hopefuls to unify behind a single candidate have foundered.

Favourites for the nomination include North West MEP, Afzal Khan, a former Lord Mayor of Manchester and local councillor Mike Amesbury, a former senior adviser to Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner.

Both men have long associations with the seat and would be strong, locally credible candidates, who, while not Corbynistas, are certainly not opponents of the leadership.

This makes the attempts to push Wheeler all the stranger.

Indeed, Amesbury helped pioneer Labour’s attack on the government’s grammar schools proposals and now serves a key campaign lieutenant for Andy Burnham.

The longlist is being drawn up today with shortlisting on Monday.

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Manchester Gorton hopefuls limber up

01/03/2017, 10:11:16 PM

There will need to be a big ring for all the hats that are being thrown into the contest to succeed Sir Gerald Kaufman as Labour MP for Manchester Gorton.

Already, a cast of hopefuls that would not disgrace a Cecil B DeMille epic are ‘letting it be known’ they are challenging for the seat, following Sir Gerald’s funeral in Leeds on Tuesday.

There is talk, however, that some candidates have been actively ‘working’ the seat in recent months while Kaufman was ailing.  Alas, such tasteless behaviour is becoming par for the course with Labour selection processes.

Of the serious candidates, much attention will be paid to Afzal Khan, an MEP for the North West and former Manchester Lord Mayor. It is not clear at this stage, however, if Labour’s National Executive would agree to him quitting Brussels to contest the seat.

The concern will be that it sets a precedent that might see other MEPs abandon their roles early in order to run for parliamentary selection processes ahead of Britain’s departure from the EU in 2019.

Other names in the frame include local councillors Julie Reid, Rabnawaz Akbar and Amina Lone, as well as Luthfer Rahman, the executive member for culture and leisure.

Earlier this week, the Huffington Post speculated that a pro-Corbyn hopeful, Sam Wheeler, a member of Momentum’s steering committee, is being pushed by the leadership. Although growing up in the Longsight area of the constituency, he is not well known to local members Uncut has spoken to.

A strong challenge will come from local councillor, Mike Amesbury. A well-liked figure in Labour politics, he is a former adviser to Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary and currently works for Andy Burnham on his campaign to become Manchester’s first metro mayor in May.

He came runner-up to Lucy Powell in the Manchester Central selection in 2012.

Nominations open next Monday and it’s expected that the by-election will be held on May 4 to coincide with the metro mayoral and county council elections.

With a 24,079 majority, the end result in Manchester Gorton shouldn’t give Jeremy Corbyn any sleepless nights.

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Labour might have won in Stoke but long term problems remain

26/02/2017, 08:26:55 PM

by Trevor Fisher

The by-election of February 23rd 2017 brings to the end the history of a seat which has been Labour since its creation in 1950. The seat will disappear under boundary changes, and its history really falls into two stages – a safe Labour seat until Tristram Hunt was parachuted in before the 2010 election, and the collapse of turnout and reduction of the Labour vote to a minority in the era after New Labour took control.

A safe seat I define as a seat where the candidate for one party gets a vote share of 50% plus, in contests with more than one opponent, and Labour did this in all elections before 2010 save 1983 where there was a Social Democrat third candidate. Labour got 48.1% of the poll in 1983. It was still a safe seat under this definition until New Labour took a hand in 2010. It then clung on, but with a minority of the votes cast in the 2010, 2015 and 2017 elections.

However Stoke Central not only declined as a Labour seat but also as a seat where working class people vote, making it a challenge for democrats. In 2015 it had the lowest turnout in the UK at 49.9%. This was however better than 2001 (47.4%) and 2005 (48.4%). Stoke thus had for a decade and a half in its centre, the apathy centre of the UK. In the EU referendum Stoke was the Leave capital city of the UK. The rejection of the EU in the referendum was a striking out at a metropolitan class which had let the city rot.

The two things are linked. Politicians in Stoke have to face the challenge that for most of its citizens, parliamentary politics and especially Labour politics, is largely irrelevant, even if the largest minority of those who still vote have voted Labour in Stoke Central. But at below 40% of the vote in three of the last four elections, winning with a declining mobilisation of actual voters should sound the alarm bells for both Labour and democracy itself.

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The by-elections in this Parliament are four or five party contests

15/01/2017, 10:46:35 PM

by Trevor Fisher

Late last year I argued on this site that the progressive alliance strategy favoured by Compass might work in by elections, but not in general elections. Afterwards I suggested that Brexit dominates British politics. Poll data is starting to indicate people vote for their Referendum position – and a recent poll suggested only 15% of Leavers were prepared to vote Labour. Put these two factors together with recent by-elections and the run up to the Copeland by election becomes a tale of five parties.

Tim Farron argued after the Witney by election on October 20th  that the Liberals were back, restoring three party politics.

The Richmond by-election seemed to back this but as UKIP stood down and backed the Tory Candidate, Goldsmith only nominally being independent, as the Greens stood down and backed the Lib Dems, this was three party politics by proxy. In the event the progressives backed the Lib Dems, Labour voters also went with the Lib Dems, and the reactionaries showed they could form their own tactical alliances

Witney offered more pointers to the new world of five party politics in England though as turnout dropped from 73.3% to 46.8% there has to be caution. But with the Greens and UKIP doing badly on October 20th – factors which may have helped the Richmond decisions – and losing their deposits, Labour losing half its vote and the Lib Dems having a 23.4% swing, Farron looked to be correct, and to be reinforced by Richmond.

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Tristram Hunt is a disgrace

13/01/2017, 05:03:38 PM

by Kevin Meagher

Those Labour MPs on the Right of the party who stuck to their guns through the 1980s, seeing-off attempts to deselect them and fighting to keep the flame of  British social democracy burning,  eventually paved the way for the party’s renaissance.

They are the unsung heroes of Labour’s long and often turbulent history. Without them, there would, in all likelihood, not even be a party today.

Gerald Kaufman. Ann Taylor. John Smith. Members of the Solidarity Group of Labour MPs.

People of ability who saw their best years wasted during the party’s obsolescence in the 1980s.

But they didn’t give up.

Sensible, pragmatic politicians who stood their ground with dignity and defiance amid the lunacy of the time.

They could have flounced off to join the SDP with those egocentric traitors: Owen, Jenkins and Shirley Williams.

But they didn’t.

They kept their fury and despair inside the Labour family.

Eventually, the party pulled through. Equilibrium was restored. Sooner or later, enough people want to actually win elections.

Where are their successors today?

All of which is an around about way of saying Tristram Hunt is a disgrace.

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It’s Christmas and family comes first – even for MPs

21/12/2016, 07:23:26 PM

by Kevin Meagher

It’s easy enough to see Jamie Reed’s decision to quit as Member of Parliament for Copeland as an “up yours” to Jeremy Corbyn.

Reed has been a constant – and often humorous – thorn in the Labour Leader’s flesh. His resignation letter, courteous and charitable to Corbyn, should probably be read for what it says, rather than be pored over for coded meaning.

His move to take up a role with his old employer, BNFL, seems an obvious fit given he is born and bred in the area and his family are settled there.

Reed is part of a generation of MPs who are also young dads (Reed is father of four) and miss their kids during the week in Westminster.

He told The Guardian that he was finding it “increasingly difficult” to balance home/work and although the decision to leave Parliament was “the hardest one I’ve ever made” it was “undoubtedly the best thing for me to do for my family.”

Resigning to spend more time with my family is the famously trite excuse for a political resignation, but just occasionally it happens to be true.

Made all the harder by the fact Reed’s West Cumbrian seat is simply miles from anywhere.

Of course ‘picturesque’ does not do the area justice – it is magnificent – but the travel to and fro from Westminster each week must have taken a toll.

As Parliament’s pre-eminent Star Wars aficionado, he will have learned the hard way that you can’t do the Copeland run in twelve parsecs.

I remember driving up from Warrington for a meeting with Jamie when he was first elected in 2005. It took about four hours, with half of it spent negotiating small roads around the Lake District.

I did so much clutch control that I must have worn five years off my knee joints.

Let that be a lesson for his would-be replacements.

The smart move for Labour in a seat with a 2,564 majority would be to pick a local and play that advantage hard.

For those London-types eyeing up the opportunity, just bear in mind that you can get a train to Paris faster than you can to Keswick.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Labour Uncut and author of ‘A United Ireland: Why unification is inevitable and how it will come about’, published by Biteback

 

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Is George Galloway planning another by-election spectacular?

08/11/2016, 10:52:27 AM

Our eye was caught by a series of tweets Galloway made this morning about Liverpool.

Why Liverpool? Well there’s likely to be a by-election there next May when Walton MP, Steve Rotheram, becomes, in all likelihood, the first-ever metro mayor for the Liverpool City Region.

This would mean a by election in his Liverpool Walton seat, probably held at the same time as the mayoral vote.

Is Galloway planning to stand? That’s the intriguing inference in a series of tweets he made this morning.

“All I ever hear from Merseyside MPs is bleating about themselves and how their angry constituents want rid of them” he wrote on Twitter, asking who will take responsibility for a quarter of Liverpool children growing up in poverty.

“What are the MPs even SAYING about it?” he demanded.

Does it amount to a coded declaration? Or is it sabre-rattling to chivvy the party into readmitting him? Or merely a digital stream of consciousness?

Despite Galloway’s raw charisma and previous form in using by-elections successfully, Labour has an enormous nigh-on impregnable 27,777 majority and fringe parties fared poorly in 2015.

Perhaps there are hopes of being back within the Labour fold in time to seek the selection? It certainly seems that George Galloway’s picture on Twitter has reverted to one from a time when he was in the Labour party. Coincidence?

Roll on next May…

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Speedy by-election planned to keep UKIP at bay

20/01/2014, 08:12:31 AM

If you’re reading this after 10am today and were hoping to stand for the Labour nomination for the Wythenshawe and Sale East by-election, caused by the tragic death of Paul Goggins, then hard lines.

This is the deadline imposed by the party as it moves swiftly to get a candidate in place before a by-election is called, probably for February 13. A panel of the National Executive Committee meets this Wednesday to whittle down applications before a hustings meeting in Wythenshawe on Friday night.

With some bookies quoting UKIP’s chances of winning the seat as 4-1, Labour is taking no chances. It needs to stop Nigel Farage gaining traction on the ground while ensuring it gets fickle Labour voters to turn out in what is predicted to be a cold February.

The Manchester Central by-election in November 2012 achieved the ignominy of managing lowest turnout in a parliamentary by-election since World War Two with just 18 per cent voting. Lucy Powell, the winner of that by-election, is set to manage the party’s campaign.

The Wythenshawe part of the seat is classic inner-city Manchester, containing five of the eight wards that make up the constituency. The remaining three sit in the neighbouring – and decidedly more affluent – borough of Trafford.

The seat contains the Benchill area, which was once assessed to be the most deprived in Europe and the scene of an infamous David Cameron walkabout where a youth made gun gestures at him.

Uncut hears that the battle for the Labour nomination is likely to be a two-horse race between Manchester councillor Rosa Battle and chief executive of Movement for Change, Mike Kane.

Both have local credentials, with Battle, Manchester’s executive member for culture and leisure, finishing third in the selection process for the Manchester Central nomination.

Mike Kane was born and raised in Wythenshawe and formerly worked as a teacher and as a parliamentary aide to James Purnell and Jonathan Reynolds.

Local sources predict Kane should edge it, with one party member praising his “great back story as a local lad,” while his community organising skills should come in handy pressing the flesh this week.

However there is expected to be no shortage of potential candidates to keep the NEC panel busy. Cheshire councillor Steve Carter, a former parliamentary candidate for Macclesfield is another hopeful.

Paul Goggins had a majority of 7,575 at the 2010 General Election.

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A postcard from the Leicester South by-election

11/04/2011, 03:30:39 PM

By Michael Dugher

Last week Ed Balls launched Labour’s by-election campaign in Leicester South. He did so from the same spot at De Montfort university where Nick Clegg, a year ago during the general election, restated his opposition to tuition fees and said that the Lib Dems had “real momentum…particularly with young voters”.  He went onto pose the question: “Who do you trust to deliver the change and fairness you want”?  If a week is a long time in politics, the last year feels like an eternity.

The Leicester South by-election was caused by the resignation of the sitting Labour MP, the respected and popular Sir Peter Soulsby, who will contest the first ever mayoral election in Leicester. For the small but dedicated group of Labour staff, this will be their third by-election in less than six months. Some of the hard-working organisers have barely had enough time to wash their smalls since leaving Barnsley.

But Barnsley Central is a very different type of constituency to Leicester South.  Barnsley Central is a traditional Labour heartland seat, a stronghold that Labour has held without interruption since the inter-war years.

Leicester South, on the other hand, is a city seat that has changed hands on a number of significant occasions. In February 1974, the Conservatives won the seat with a 1,700 majority. Eight months later, Labour took it back with a 1,300 majority. When the Tories were riding high under Mrs Thatcher in 1983, Leicester South again narrowly elected a Conservative MP, with a majority of seven. Despite big majorities for Labour in the 1990s and in 2001, in the immediate aftermath of the Iraq war in 2004, Leicester South was the scene of a major by-election win for the Lib Dems, as they took the seat with a majority of over 1,600. At the subsequent general election in 2005, Labour regained the constituency with a majority of more than three thousand. (more…)

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Trying to keep up with Dan Jarvis in Barnsley Central

12/03/2011, 11:30:36 AM

by Dave Roberts

Labour’s second by-election victory of the year was a moment to celebrate – and not just because the Liberal Democrats were obliterated and the Tories humiliated – but because it demonstrated that Labour could still campaign – and campaign hard  – even in a heartland seat such as Barnsley Central.

The overall result in Barnsley was never really in doubt – the constituency is about as Labour as you can get.  On the doorstep, voters were determined to show the Tory-led government what they thought of the cuts, and for many the memories of the brutality of Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s were very real. But the way the Labour team campaigned was impressive and the landslide victory that the voters delivered should linger in people’s memories for some time to come. People should not underestimate the significance of this result – to increase a numerical majority with a decreased turn out is a significant achievement.

The result was also a huge moment for the successful candidate, Dan Jarvis, the former paratrooper who overcame his outsider status to win the respect, and a few hearts, of the people he now represents. Dan threw himself into the campaign from the moment he was selected. His enthusiasm, dedication and sincerity were recognised by all who met him. Dan’s ability to convince the wavering voter that it was worth going to the polls to vote for the Labour party, was outstanding.

However, the lasting memory I will have of my four days in Barnsley is the sheer pace of the campaign – and here I refer to genuine speed. Being a man who has run marathons in the desert, Dan is not short on fitness – something he demonstrated every day by running between doors. Up hill or downhill, in the morning or after eight hours canvassing – Dan was still running. On polling day we started running at 10am and finished twelve hours later. And the amazing thing is that this energy infected the whole team. I am no runner, but on polling day I, and the rest of the team with Dan, was still moving at an alarming pace when the day ended.

The pain in my legs caused by all that running has now subsided but the pain suffered by the Tories and Lib Dems in Barnsley Central will continue for some time to come – and Dan Jarvis and “team Jarvis” will be there to remind both parties of their humiliation in Barnsley.

Dave Roberts is a Labour activist and director, Morgan Roberts Ltd.

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