What next for Manchester Gorton constituency?

Following the sad passing of Sir Gerald Kaufman MP for Manchester Gorton constituency on 27th February 2017 it would appear that the following potential candidates are emerging:
Momentum activist Sam Wheeler.
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Other possible candidates are Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar and Councillor Luthfur Rahman.
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Some reporting seems to be judging ahead of time the tone on the campaign on the basis of text messages they have received, instead of noting that all prospective candidates, under LP rules, are submitted to their CLP for perusal. Anyone eligible has the right to stand, and all these candidates qualify. We must take care not to bandy around the term ‘aggressive manoeuvring’ to describe what is a customary drawing up campaign lines in politics.
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So, who are these candidates? At present, information in context is scanty, perhaps to be expected so soon after the demise of Kaufman after a long illness. However, the information below, as well as hyperlinks above, shine some light on what are as present unconfirmed potential selections.
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Khan, touted by some as the front runner does have some political chops as an MEP and with, according to him, Union backing (all but Unite). It is known that he has long standing but tenuous link with the son of CWU Regional Secretary Carl Webb, and an influential player with unions in the North West. However, nepotism is not and should not result in a shoe in to a seat. Mr Khan refused to deny that he was running and said, “Sir Gerald Kaufman was a true champion for the people of Manchester and his constituents. Over the 20 years we worked together I was always grateful for his support, advice and above all friendship. He will be sorely missed and will be a hard act for anyone to follow.
Out of respect to his memory and his family now is not the time to be discussing selections or the by-election”.
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Sam Wheeler, the possible Momentum candidate is perhaps unsurprisingly being supported by people close to Jeremy Corbyn, as Momentum is an affiliated LP group set up to back the aims and objectives of Corbyn- indeed it would be remiss of them not to support Wheeler. While he is new to a full on MP role, Unite appear to be considering supporting him over Khan. Wheeler has not been part of any of the local infighting. He comes from Longsight, and was sacked by Boddington’s for trade union organising. And Boddington’s record is not good in this area. He has however worked for several Labour MPs and is currently a civil servant. Support from Corbyn’s office would of course give him access to parliamentary expertise that could make up for the lack of current experience. This of course could be seen as part of putting Momentum on a stronger political footing in the mainstream, as suggested by this email in January 2017.
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Less is known about Reid and Amesbury in this context. Mr Amesbury is quoted as saying, “I’ve been very consistent on this, I’m not commenting out of respect for Sir Gerald.” And while this is a laudible statement, it does not mean it is inappropriate for someone who would like to stand for Manchester Gorton to at least be considering their options. Amesbury currently works for Andy Burnham’s Mayoral campaign and was Office Manager for Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner, was the front-runner in the 2010 Oldham East and Saddleworth By-Election before pulling out. He is a Councillor in Fallowfield ward and also likely to be taken seriously by the unions.
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And Councillor Julie Reid had not confirmed directly that she would be running either at this early stage, but it is likely.
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Councillor’s Rabnawaz Akbar and Luthfur Rahman are dominant figures in the BAME community in Gorton. They appear to be rivals in Council and are likely to command a huge amount of personal loyalty from the membership.
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Of course, other issues relating to this seat need to be considered, not least the issue of Corbyn’s pledge to have more women and People of Colour or BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) have access to political process. In Manchester Gorton, a seat held by one man since 1983, this could be one deciding factor in the CLP’s decision on choosing a candidate. Manchester has one of the highest BAME – mainly Asian – populations in the country and only ever had one woman Labour MP, and such representation could be a sensible choice.
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Councillors Akbar and Rahman have as yet not commented at all.
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Manchester Gorton, by any definition, is a safe seat and the CLP, should all these candidates confirm that they are standing, have a wide range of people to consider for selection, right across the broad church of the Labour party. However with the suspension of the CLP last July due to claims of not following due process and undue belligerency, it is clear that the process must be transparent and acrimony free. Kaufman never won less than half the votes in every election since 1983 and the seat is a valuable Labour asset. It is also vital that the inclinations of the Unions are taken into account, as part of Labour party due process. Corbyn’s office, and Corbyn himself as leader of the party and a long time colleague and friend of Kaufman will be following the events to come with interest.
Sources for this are in the hyperlinks. And it was written as an amendment/response to the high levels of bias and incendiary language in the following blog: http://www.writeyou.co.uk/manchester_gorton_explodes
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UPDATE: On 1st March I received this email from Azfal Khan, just a day after writing this blog:
khan-1-copy
khan-2-copy
 The email went on to show and promote what he has been doing over the past year, including a ‘Brexit Report’ where “we had members from Penrith to Nantwich tell me their views on Brexit and what the priorities should be going forward. Although the first part of my tour has concluded, I believe that the complex nature of our Brexit negotiations demands that this is not the end of the conversation, but just the beginning. In the coming weeks and months I’ll still be seeking views from the public on the whole range of issues that Brexit will throw up and I’ll continue to update you on the work I’m doing.”
Should I receive emails from any of the other candidates, I will add them here.

UPDATE 1 : If Galloway’s Twitter is any indication, George is about to throw his hat into this ring. This could split the ‘left’ vote but as Tom Watson the deputy leader essentially kicked Rebecca Long-Bailey from the selection panel for the LP candidate and added Keith Vaz. Vaz should have had the whip withdrawn under parliamentary rules for his extra-marital conduct so why he’s being seen as someone credible to decide something like this I have little clue. This is not a judgment call. If someone is proven to have broken the rules of their post, they should go. Long-Bailey is perceived to be someone who supports Corbyn so it is difficult not to wonder if this is Watson is doing box and cox politics here (see my blog on the man)- saying one thing in the ‘daytime’ but behind the scenes at ‘night’ having a different agenda. And if Copeland and Stoke by-elections are any indication, the LP loses support among voters when they field a candidate that does not support Corbyn, despite the fact that many LP officials seem either unaware of this or are prepared to consign the party to the hinterlands to remove the incumbent leader.

UPDATE 2:  (21/03/17) There is an unofficial shortlist, with Khan described as favourite. Sam Wheeler (Momentum candidate) may have been dropped for Yasmine Dar (a good selection for the BAME and women aspects of such elections, and currently a Councillor) but as Wheeler was surprised as anyone to hear he was a possibility, this may not mean anything significant. The shortlist appears to be Dar, Amina Lone (a Corbyn sceptic according to the New Statesman), Rahman and Ali.

UPDATE 3: And George Galloway has announced his intention to stand there as an Independent- it is no longer a very badly kept ‘secret’ 😉 -according to all MSM outlets today. Though Arron Banks described by the New Statesman as ‘the man who bought Brexit’ (touched on by Galloway in his interview below) and his website , described by the Independent as

an anti-establishment news website intended to herald “radical political change”, echoing the tones of American alt-right site Breitbart. [Remind you of anyone? Who immediately comes to mind is ‘Guido Fawkes’ who is discussed on my Watson blog.]

some alleged, says he’s standing for the Pirate Party, who are a decent set of people actually, if their emails in reply to my queries are any judge. The article itself says no such thing, though it confirms he is standing in Manchester Gorton.

  • Why would Galloway released this information there, however? Banks is not someone from whom I would have thought Galloway would want exposure.
  • He interviewed Banks on RT this year too (January 2017). Surely a man that seems to have some displayed some nowse over the years isn’t going ‘one-policy’, i.e. being an advocate of the Leave faction, calling it in the VT ‘The Last Days of Pompeii‘, implying he’d stand with Banks in an anti-EU party provided the political spectrum was complete, and is showing support and giving exposure to anyone who also supports Leave? Or, as seems to be suggested in the interview, anything is fair game as long as it attacks Theresa May and the Conservatives?
  • If we look at his risibly low voting attendance when he was an MP, it makes you wonder why he’s bothering to stand at all
  • Is this just distractification to divert attention away from the imminent official LP candidate selection? If so, I’ve just spent an hour being distracted while I fact checked, but I’m ‘back in the room’ 😉

UPDATE 4: Now who is standing?

The Greens have already announced their candidate, Jess Mayo.

The Lib Dems chose Jackie Pearcey to stand.

The Conservative Manchester Gorton page looks like it’s not been updated for a while, and I cannot at present find their candidate. The Tameside Reporter yesterday confirmed there has been no Conservative or UKIP candidate announced as yet. In the 2015 GE the candidates were Mohammed Afzal and Phil Eckersley, respectively.

And Labour have now officially selected their candidate; an unsurprising result. This has not pleased many quarters, as I imagine they were still hoping for someone less ‘centre left’ and without obvious links to Tom Watson, Keith Vaz and Tony Blair. The ‘danger’ of a ‘Blairite’ getting it is small potatoes compared to the media circus that will ensue if the LP lose one of their safest seats. Some, like the agent provocateur Guido Fawkes (see the Tom Watson blog) go further, basing his assertions on Tweets-

Afzal Khan, who tweeted comparing Israel to Nazis and is a fan of Ayatollah Khomeini, has won Labour’s selection in Gorton. He beat the Momentum candidate Yasmine Dar in the final round last night. Keith Vaz arranged an all-Asian shortlist of which Khan was always going to be the overwhelming favourite – he’s been sniffing around Gerald Kaufman’s seat for years…

I can see nothing in any sources to show any Khomeini link for Khan. Perhaps Guido is confusing him with Fawzia Afzal-Khan, the noted (female) middle Eastern academic  and outspoken commentator on the Khomeini regime, whose 2005 work ‘Shattering the Stereotypes’ that gives Muslim women a voice, is well worth a read (sometimes one has to be careful using Google you know 😉 )

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Labour List, whilst a lot more neutral, also described the end process as a two-horse race between Khan and Dar. And the all-‘Asian’ shortlist has raised a few eyebrows, partly on the basis of the area being up to 75% white. Gorton also has its own issues-

  • more people there than the national average have no qualifications at all (over 1/5),
  • the birth rate is higher,
  • unemployment is higher
  • and with a great proportion of the population stuck in high-priced rental accommodation.

It does appear that Khan is

  • well aware of the issues that affect his constituency,
  • is unafraid of using the word ‘socialist’ to describe himself (anathema if we believe the MSM!)

khan socialist copy

Update 5: Jeremy Corbyn released this statement today (28/03/17):

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If the selection process for Gorton was a fit-up by Vaz on Tom Watson’s orders (see the Watson blog)  then this a graceful and dignified response. Though I will say I find the fact that Gorton CLP has been under special measures for years (since 2004) most unsatisfactory, and something that needs to be addressed. Some commenters describe this as a branch of the party at war with itself and many more tell of vote rigging and intimidation accusations that have repeated in 2016, and conflict over the selection process said by some like HuffPost, to have the potential of gifting the seat to the Lib Dems. In the Manchester Evening News, this month, the following was said:

Gorton’s disagreements have been more frequent and more toxic than most.

When the party was suspended last year following an almighty row within its Levenshulme branch, I asked one seasoned Labour figure how unusual such a suspension actually was.

Under normal circumstances it would be unusual, he said, drily. But Gorton had been suspended so many times since the 1980s due to its factions misbehaving that really, in this case, not so much.

Looks like Khan, if he wins, has a lot of clearing out to do. Or perhaps, like Kaufman, he will do nothing and let them fight among themselves while he sits in Westminster.

Still no news on any right wing candidate at the time of writing this.

Update 6 (31/03/13): The Conservative candidate has now been announced. He does live in the city with his wife and four-year-old daughter, and works in the University of Manchester’s International Development Department. However, there are still no signs of any other candidates, from UKIP or any Independents. Maybe Nuttall is too busy spouting populist nonsense on Question Time (and why was he even on there? UKIP now have no MPs and even some of the audience consider them finished as a ‘party’) to galvanise his election teams. And I am sure he knows if he attends any campaigning in the north west, any candidate can kiss goodbye to their deposit after a stream of justified attacks on his mendacious website and the claims made thereof. Twitter too is full of banter shall we say on the man.

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