Sunday, 28 March 2010

Stoke Central Long List

Tomorrow 11 people still in the race to be Stoke Central's Labour MP after the general election will be interviewed in London. According to Peter Kenyon they will be grilled by Keith Vaz, Cllr Ann Lucas of Coventry, and USDAW deputy general secretary Paddy Lillis. So who are these folk lucky enough to make it onto the long list?

In the 'no surprises' category are Jane Heggie, Rob Flello MP's office manager, Sarah Hill, leading light of Labour's 'City Party', historian Tristram Hunt, and Byron Taylor of the Trade Union and Labour Liason Organisation (website
here). I was unsurprised but disappointed left wingers like Mike Ion and Mark Seddon didn't clear the first hurdle, nor did various other locals who threw their hats in the ring.

Who are the others that made it?

Neil Goulbourne is a GP from Coventry and a member of the Labour affiliated Socialist Health Association. A verbatim transcript of a talk he gave on health inequality can be found

Mervyn Smith is only one of three local names to have got through. He was part of former Labour mayor Mark Meredith's "advisory panel" and remains one of his supporters in Stoke Central CLP. He lost his council seat in the
Labour wipeout of 2008.

Sajjad-Hussein Malik is a sitting councillor in Oxford where he holds the sports and leisure portfolio in the council cabinet. Interestingly he defected from the LibDems as a councillor as recently as 2006. He previously made the shortlist to replace disgraced MP Elliot Morley.

Fadel Takrouri is a nuclear physicist(!) and pharmacist. He was born in Palestine and is another Coventry applicant. He is a member of Labour's Black And Minority Ethnic (BAME) group as the representative of Arabs for Labour.

Kamaljeet Jandu has, according to
this profile, a long history in the trade union movement and is now the GMB's national officer for equality.

Joe Ukemenam is a former UN ambassador to several African countries and is currently a journalist. He is also chair of a Unison voluntary organisation branch.

Zahid Nawaz is West Midlands regional manager for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, a former parliamentary researcher and has served in a variety of capacities as an international relations/security consultant. He also sits on the WestMids police authority, where he's curiously described as an independent.

None of the above would be my first choice for candidate, but as a trade unionist I'm drawn to Byron Taylor and Kamaljeet Jandu. Unfortunately, the CLP grapevine has it that Byron does
not plan to move to the constituency should he be successful. If that's right he can kiss his chances goodbye. Apart from these two, none of the remaining five really do it for me.

That said I am warming slightly to Tristram Hunt. Like several other candidates he's been out and about this week and has made clear what he's standing for. His pledges are:

* Fight to keep schools located in our communities
* Use his business, political and media skills to bring investment, regeneration, tourism and jobs
* Work to promote Stoke's profile nationally
* Take the fight to the BNP
* Build a vibrant and inclusive local party
* Liaise with community groups, police and council to tackle anti-social behaviour
* Move himself and his family to the constituency
* Keep his expenses transparent and open

Not a programme for the abolition of capitalism by any means, but well within the mainstream of Labour party opinion.

Who will make the shortlist? Assuming there will be five names Tristram is a dead cert, as is Sarah Hill. I think Jane Heggie and Byron Taylor are very probable too. As for the fifth, I would be surprised if one of the Coventry names didn't get through. And who will get the big prize? It's difficult to say. Last week I
pooh-poohed Tristram's chances, but now I think this was a mistake. The problem with Jane and Sarah is they are too associated with region's side of the interminable dispute between it and the CLP, and it is a relationship that will cost them dear when it comes to the selection vote. Tristram on the other hand - despite his association with the Prince of Darkness - is an untainted figure.

On a final note I will say the selection process has been a shoddy disgrace - it should be up to the elected officers of CLPs to determine who gets on the long and short lists, not the party machine.

Monday update: I have heard Byron Taylor does after all intend to move to the constituency.

Monday evening update: Byron Taylor, Jane Heggie, Sarah Hill and Mervyn Smith didn't make the shortlist. So that's no local candidates and means Tristram is now the clear front runner. The selection meeting on Thursday will be most interesting.


andy newman said...

what is the state of Trade Union affiliations? Will they swing it?

Kamiljeet is a first class candidate, IMHO, and would be assured of bringing with him the very active support of GMB.

I would certainly recommend him.

Anonymous said...

One BAME candidate will probably be on the final shortlist considering Vaz's prensence on the Panel

Derek Wall said...

If I say go with the Engels biographer he is toast.

Unknown said...

"Not a programme for the abolition of capitalism"

Always best to save this for when you make it to the shortlist...

I do hope you will admonish any potential candidate who pledges to abolish capitalism in Stoke, because you can't have socialism in one city ;-)

Phil said...

I don't know Andy. There are certainly trade union affiliates on paper but only one I know of - the potters' union Unity - takes an interest in what happens in the CLP. I believe all local affiliates should send delegates, and it's something I'll be pushing in the CLP over the coming months.

There will be a vote at the selection meeting and will, I'm told, be done on the basis of a simple majority (it may mean I might not be able to attend, being a member of less than 6 months standing - but I will fight to get in that meeting).

Fidel said...

Phil, far from it being my responsibility to point out the obvious, but think I should.

1. A stitch up is made of the whole process.

2. A few hate figures are put into the frame (ie Elected Mayor loyalists).

3. A hat-full of also rans.

4. Two shoe-ins (favouritised from the start).

5. One a Regional Office worker.

6. One their Lordships choice.

The process removes the hate figures, before the kill.
The next stage is to remove the 'also rans'.
Leaving TA DAAAAAAAA........
The two goody-two shoes.

Come on Phil, did you attend the Fisher farewell evening?
Did any names come out who are the REAL choices of the Labour members?

Wasn't it the two panelists,Keith Vaz and Ann Lucas who took apart Stoke Central members and kept them out of the contest? How twee.

Brother S said...

Great photo! Which is Jane and which is Sarah?

Anonymous said...

I would say the opposite of Andy Newman.

As someone who has had various dealings with Kamaljeet in his Equalities role for the GMB, I find him a tiresome windbag, totally devoid of any understanding of socialist politics or democratic process, and more interested in making friends with those in high places than doing what he was asked by lay members.

So probably a perfect MP then.

As with him and his ilk, him getting selected would be great for the GMB as we can all give him a round of applause and never see him again.

Phil said...

Just heard Tristram made the shortlist - Byron didn't. The first not a surprise, the second was. Will have the other names as soon as they're out.

Anonymous said...

I am having a good cry that Fadel didn't make it. He was a lovely man and would have made a good MP. He also had some very interesting ideas of how to rid the city of the BNP.