Debbie Abrahams is Labour’s candidate in the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election following the disqualification of former MP, Phil Woolas who had beaten the Lib Dems by only 103 votes in May. She was selected by local members from a shortlist of three local candidates, beating Riaz Ahmed and Abdul Jabbar. Whilst there was no attempt to parachute a favoured outsider into Oldham, and Ed Miliband, we understand, was keen to ensure that party members were able to select from a shortlist of local people, it is still disappointing that the local party was not able to influence (or even choose) the shortlist, and that the shortlist was so, well, short.
There really is no reason why the shortlist could not have been chosen either by the local party executive or by a panel consisting of local party and NEC representatives. This is an issue which should be considered by the review of party structure, and readers will be pleased to hear that there is already a rule change to that effect which was submitted by a number of CLPs last year and can be voted upon next year.
Debbie Abrahams was Labour candidate in Colne Valley in May. She is a public health consultant, former director of public health research at Liverpool university and chair of Rochdale primary care trust. She has a reputation from Colne valley for being very hard working and a strong candidate. On being selected, she said:
It’s an honour and a privilege to have been selected as Labour’s candidate. Now I’m looking forward to getting out and meeting as many residents as possible in the next few weeks to listen to their concerns.
It’s important that the real issues and concerns of people in the borough are not lost during this by-election campaign. People feel let down by the LibDem-Tory broken promises on police cuts, tuition fees and VAT. It doesn’t have to be this way, there is an alternative.
This is an opportunity for people to send a message to the government. Oldham East and Saddleworth needs a Labour MP who will stand up and fight for them. I’m determined to keep my promises and deliver the best possible deal for people in this borough”.
We wish her luck.