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Another by-election stitch-up in Wythenshawe?

7207448_sPaul Goggins, former MP for the safe Labour seat of Wythenshawe and Sale East, was buried three days ago, tragically dying a few days after collapsing whilst out jogging. Today at 9am, applications opened for his successor with an announcement on Labour’s Membersnet. The deadline for applications at 10am tomorrow, longlisting on Wednesday and all over by Friday, eight days after the selection. Precious little time for potential candidates to consider putting themselves forward (or even to find out about the deadline). No time for members to get to know the candidates. Unsurprisingly,  LabourList describes it as a “shot-gun selection”.

What possible reason could there be for such indecent haste? Surely not because, as we understand is the case, the leadership has already decided to back Mike Kane, former adviser to Blairite Cabinet minister, James Purnell. After Purnell left Parliament in 2010, Kane went on to work for his successor, Jonny Reynolds MP, now vice-chair of Progress and himself the beneficiary of a shortlist stitch-up thanks to the intervention of Purnell and Lord Mandelson, and then for the Leader of Tameside Council.

Kane is now acting chief executive of the Lord Sainsbury-funded Movement for Change. Although he writes in Progress about his campaigning experience in the Manchester council ward he represented, his campaigning skills were not quite so much in evidence when he managed to lose the safe Labour seat of Northenden to which he’d been elected in 2003 to the Lib Dems when he faced re-election in 2007. He clearly hasn’t forgiven the Lib Dem who beat him since he was questioned by the police less than two years ago for “a series of alleged incidents of verbal abuse” against him. Accused of abusing Cllr Eakins at a public meeting for looking like a “tramp“, Kane admitted he’d said the councillor was not “suited to speaking in public if he was always so scruffy” and that “it became quite heated“.

In spite of the unreasonable rush, there are other candidates interested. Cllr Rosa Battle, Manchester Council’s cabinet member for culture and leisure, is said to be the local members’ favourite, and is thought certain to get union and left backing in a contest with Mike Kane.  Other people known to be interested but whose support is unknown are Manchester Councillor Mike Amesbury and economist Peter de Souza.

There will be no representative of the local constituency party on the panel that shortlists cxandidates. It is understood that the NEC members likely to constitute the panel are Angela Eagle MP (Party Chair), Diana Holland (Treasurer & Unite), Jon Ashworth MP, Peter Wheeler (CLP representative on NEC, Progress/Labour First  slate) Keith Birch (Unison).

Suggestions in the right-wing press that UKIP are poised for a major breakthrough in the by-election have been dismissed by Rob Ford, Mancherster University academic and co-author of the forthcoming book, Revolt on the Right: Explaining Support for the Radical Right in Britain, who has written about the appeal of UKIP to voters from all parties. He said UKIP was unlikely to get within ‘spitting distance’ of winning, adding: “UKIP are the shiny new thing for the media to talk up – but the likeliest result in any by-election is usually the most boring one.”

Image credit: designpics / 123RF Stock Photo

8 Comments

  1. Robert says:

    Miliband doing what Progress says not much else one can say really new labour is dead long live Newer Labour. should make John happy.

  2. Swatantra Nandanwar says:

    Better the Progressives than the Aggressives. But Rosa Battle sounds like a formidable contestant, so I hope the woman gets it, instead of what sounds like yet another Spad.

  3. phil dooney says:

    As a local party member I can attest that Mike Kane is a decent and likeable fellow. However, I cannot support a New Labour candidate – especially one who has assisted James Purnell. I want a proper socialist for our deprived constituency.

  4. phil dooney says:

    Even though my reasonable comment has been awaiting moderation for 8 hours I refuse to moderate it. What’s the problem

    1. Jon Lansman says:

      Apologies, but every now and again I have other things to do. You will now discover that your reasonable comment has been moderated and found reasonable.

  5. Rod says:

    Phil: “I want a proper socialist for our deprived constituency.”

    You’re in the wrong party mate. No way will Progress allow that to happen in what should be a safe seat.

    You only have to look at what they did in Falkirk to see how far they’ll go when there’s a safe seat up for grabs.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hi. I just received an Email from one of our MEP candidates that was sent out to all the people in our team telling us to volunteer for a leaflet drop for new Wythenshawe and Sale East by-election MP candidate Mike Kane, despite the fact that the candidate election is not until tomorrow…….

    Is it fixed? Definitely. Typical Progress.

  7. Steve says:

    I am fingers crossed and wishing that we haven’t been stuck with Mike Kane as our MP. This man is nothing more than a self serving, self publicist. If Kane makes it to Parliament, he will have his snout in the public funds trough like the rest of them and just another wanna be remote Elitist voice in Parliament. How could the Local labour party possibly think that Kane was fit to walk in the footsteps of Alf Morris or Paul Goggins who were both great men. Vote anything but Kane folks, you will regret it in the near future if you do.

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