Posts Tagged ‘Mike Amesbury’

Campaign frontline: In Weaver Vale, the Tories might outspend Labour but the party won’t be outworked

29/05/2017, 01:00:15 PM

In a series of reports from the frontline, Uncut looks at what’s happening on the ground. Kevin Meagher visited Weaver Vale, a seat Labour needs to win to form a government

Tidy stone walls and trimmed high hedges in glorious summer colours frame the journey on the road in to Weaver Vale. Interspersed are rows of pretty terraces with brightly-painted doors and big, detached properties with spacious gardens. Every now and then there are hand-written signs hung over gates or staked in the ground advertising ‘New Cheshire Potatoes’ from local farms.

Then the lettering above an old road sign brings it home: ‘Vale Royal Borough’. The previous name for this part of Cheshire, before the old county and district councils were scrapped to create two new unitaries a decade ago.

Cheshire is not ‘the North’ as many would recognise it. A collection of attractive and often very prosperous market towns and villages set in lush farmland and countryside. It is a beautiful part of the country and far more affluent than Greater Manchester to its north and Merseyside to its west, serving as a hinterland for the well-heeled who work in either.

But the county also has odd bits of heavy industry like the giant Ineos chemicals site that seems to take an eternity to pass driving along the M56. And there are still reliable urban redoubts for Labour. Towns like Warrington and Runcorn and Widnes remain safe bets.

Weaver Vale is an amalgam of these two Cheshires, incorporating the smart market towns of Frodsham and Northwich as well as the eastern part of Runcorn. Labour has always had a decent base in Cheshire and held this seat easily enough between 1997 and 2010. Even in 2015, the Conservative majority here was only 806.

I’m here to meet Labour’s candidate, Mike Amesbury, a recent veteran of Andy Burnham’s successful mayoral campaign and a former adviser to Shadow Education Secretary, Angela Rayner.

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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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Breathe in, breathe out

11/11/2014, 02:03:24 PM

by Mike Amesbury

Unity, discipline, being on message (with a coherent message), self-belief and a vision of hope are essential ingredients of a winning campaign. Over the last week a small and cowardly bunch of Labour MPs seem to be suffering from a collective dose of amnesia.

Take your minds back to the wilderness years of 18 years of opposition, the self-indulgent politics of many in our ranks and our disastrous elections campaigns of the 1980s and early 90s. These were characterised by regular mishaps, media briefings and counter briefings; with shadow ministers contradicting each other and untimely sniping about our own leadership.

Not only were we letting ourselves down, more importantly we let our supporters, potential supporters and nation suffer the consequences of Thatcherism. Please, please, wake up and smell the coffee and don’t do this again.

I, for one, am pretty determined to cheer on every Tory and Lib Dem defeat throughout the night of the 7th May 2015 and the early hours of the 8th. I don’t want to mark the day after my 46th birthday with pictures of this Prime Minister Cameron all over media, I don’t want another four years of him unleashing further hell on our nation.

For all its faults, (and there were quite a few) the Blair years were known for professional and disciplined campaigns – 1997, 2001, and 2005 (give or take the odd punch from John Prescott).

The harsh lessons of the wilderness years became engrained in the DNA of the Labour party. The electorate does not like disunity.  A common joke amongst officials (of which I was one) and front benchers were references to Peter Mandelson instructing us to “breathe in and breathe out”.

Call me old fashioned if you will, but I have always been keen on winning elections in order to implement a Labour manifesto. We won an unprecedented three successive Labour victories, built a record amount of new schools and hospitals, introduced the minimum wage and implemented measures such as tax credits while reducing child poverty.  This discipline combined with staying on a Labour message is needed now more than ever.

A Labour  message that talks about, saving the NHS, building a million new homes, increasing the minimum wage, scrapping the bedroom tax, freezing energy bills and creating a responsible and fair economy for all. These are the only briefings that I want to hear as an activist.

Start breathing it in and out over the coming months, in the media, at public meetings and on the doorstep. Let us fight to be the country we should be, one that is prosperous and fair for all, one that offers my young son better opportunities than I had. For this we need a Labour prime minister making that victory speech on the 8thMay 2015.

Mike Amesbury is a Manchester City Councillor, a National Policy Forum Rep and former Labour North West Regional Official

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Powell’s victory on first ballot in Manchester Central selection

17/04/2012, 03:14:57 PM

Labour Uncut understands that Lucy Powell’s victory in the race to become Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Manchester Central was won on the first ballot.

Powell topped the poll on the first round of voting with 93 votes.

Local councillor Mike Amesbury came second with 55. Fellow Manchester councillor Rosa Battle was third with 24 while London charity chief Patrick Vernon came fourth with 11.

The party’s refusal to allow postal voting was threatened by legal challenge last week, forcing party officials to relent and allow proxy voting instead.

However turnout appears to have suffered with just half the membership voting.

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Proxy voting to be allowed in Manchester Central selection

11/04/2012, 07:00:34 AM

Party bosses in the Manchester Central parliamentary selection have been forced to back down and allow proxy voting, following the threat of legal action.

The party had originally taken the highly unusual step of banning postal voting on the grounds that the process was being run on a tight timescale.

However Labour Uncut learns that Anna Hutchinson, the party’s regional director in the north west, who is acting as procedures secretary, has now written to candidates confirming that proxy voting will be allowed during the selection meeting next Monday (16 April).

This followed complaints by at least two of the four candidates – Manchester councillors Mike Amesbury and Rosa Battle – together with constituency party officers, local councillors and several party members who feared many elderly and disabled members would effectively have been disenfranchised by the ban on postal voting.

It is believed one of the members who complained sought legal advice on the basis that the party’s draconian ruling infringed the Disability Discrimination Act.

As well as Amesbury and Battle, the nomination is being contested by Ed Miliband’s deputy chief of staff, Lucy Powell, and Patrick Vernon who runs a health charity in London.

The Manchester Central selection is caused by the decision of sitting MP Tony Lloyd to contest the new role as Greater Manchester’s Police and Crime Commissioner. He held the seat at the last election with a majority of 10,430.

The by-election is scheduled to be held on 15 November, the same day as elections for the 41 police commissioners.

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Complaints over postal votes in Manchester Central selection

02/04/2012, 07:00:04 AM

Party members in Manchester Central are complaining that they risk being disenfranchised in the selection process to choose Labour’s candidate for the forthcoming parliamentary by-election because party bosses are refusing to allow postal voting.

The unusual move is said to be due to the selection’s tight timescale, caused by the resignation of former minister and parliamentary Labour Party chair, Tony Lloyd, who hopes to become Greater Manchester’s first elected police and crime commissioner this November.

However eyebrows are being raised by some members who question why the process is being hurried along, especially if it makes it difficult for elderly and housebound members to participate.

They have written to the party’s North West regional office warning that some people risk being disenfranchised as a result of the postal vote ban.

They also worry that the seat contains economically diverse communities and that there may be a differential turnout between the more prosperous city centre wards and places like Newton Heath and Moss Side – some of the poorest communities in England.

Four candidates were shortlisted last week to succeed Lloyd, including Ed Miliband’s deputy chief of staff, Lucy Powell, Patrick Vernon who runs a health charity in London and Manchester councillors Rosa Battle and Mike Amesbury.

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The missing name from the Manchester Central shortlist

29/03/2012, 08:00:46 AM

Two men and two women were announced yesterday as the contenders for Manchester Central shortlist. The particulars of Lucy Powell, Rosa Battle, Mike Amesbury and Patrick Vernon have been detailed elsewhere, but Uncut has heard whispers from unhappy local members interested in a missing name: Mohammed Afzal Khan.

The first Asian Lord Mayor of Manchester and a local councillor since 2000, Khan has built up a formidable base of local support. His desire for a parliamentary seat is longstanding but Khan is rapidly becoming Labour’s nearly man of the north.

Initially he was a front runner for Oldham East and Saddleworth following Phil Woolas’s departure, but in a surprise move did not even make the short list, despite being a partner in a law firm in Oldham and having strong local backing.

Then there was the Labour selection for Manchester’s police and crime commissioner (PCC). As a leading local Labour politician, a senior lawyer and a former police constable, Khan was interested and this should have been his break-through.

Until that is Tony Lloyd indicated that he would be prepared to relinquish his ultra-safe seat to become Labour’s PCC candidate in November’s election. At this point the political calculus changed and the central machine whirred into action.

A prize such as Manchester Central is rare and with Ed Miliband’s Manchester-based deputy chief of staff, Lucy Powell, looking for a seat, the choreography was clear: Lloyd to PCC and Powell to Central.

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