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Who’s who in the race to be Gorton’s next MP?

Last night the race to replace Gerald Kaufman as Gorton’s MP entered its final stages, as the NEC shortlisting panel met to confirm the five names that will go forward to the membership of Gorton CLP. Sam Wheeler, the preferred candidate of Momentum and Unite, was excluded as the shortlisting panel (three out of five of whom were anti-Corbyn members of the NEC) decided that the seat would be an ‘all-BAME’ shortlist, the first time the party has imposed such a list.

Who are the candidates then?

Cllr Yasmine Dar

A single mother and councillor in Gorton, Yasmine Dar has been a social worker, a multi-faith Chaplain in Strangeways prison, and established a local charity to work with disadvantaged youngsters in the community.

Given the exclusion of Sam Wheeler from the shortlist, Dar is the only remaining candidate who supported Jeremy Corbyn in the two recent leadership elections.

On her Facebook page, she wrote:

The legacy of Sir Gerald Kaufman, a man of integrity and commitment, needs to continue in the capable hands of his Labour comrades.

Over the last several years, I have been an active member of the Labour Party and since 2014 an elected councillor in Moston. For the last two years, I have held an assistant executive position presently within Adult Health and wellbeing. It has been a privilege to serve as a Labour councillor representing the existing and developing communities of Manchester.

Afzal Khan MEP

Originally considered a frontrunner by those outside of Gorton, Khan is now worried because his vote is split a number of different ways. Khan’s campaign was hoping that Luthfur Rahman would be kept off the shortlist, and is now looking at a very squeezed support base. Khan was a Burnham supporter in 2015.

Cllr Luthfur Rahman

Not the former Mayor of Tower Hamlets, though they do share the same name. This Luthfur Rahman is in many ways a more controversial character.

In June 2010 the Manchester Evening News reported that Rahman “kicked and punched a man during a dispute in the prayer hall of a mosque”.  The councillor, in Gorton’s Longsight ward, was accused of assault alongside four other men, but eventually acquitted after his trial was cut short by a judge. The judge ‘bound over’ all five defendants to keep the peace for twelve months, in the sum of £500 each, a power used by courts when they believe there is a risk an individual may breach the peace in future.

Rahman is ideologically on the party’s right, and in 2014 he applied to be Labour’s candidate in Bootle, Liverpool, but failed to get selected.

Cllr Amina Lone

Amina Lone was a PPC for Morecambe and Lunesdale in 2015, an election where the Tories’ majority increased fivefold from 866 to 4,590.

A prominent supporter of the Blairite pressure group Progress, on which Left Futures has written much about previously, Lone spoke as part of Progress’s “grassroots tour of Manchester” alongside leading stars such as Tristram Hunt.

Unsurprisingly given such a background on the right of the party, Lone is no fan of Corbyn. In January she tweeted, “Corbyn is nowhere, it’s like see nothing, hear nothing, speak nothing”, calling his opposition “unacceptable”. Not a huge fan of his supporters either, Lone has said some of us were prone to “abusive keyboard rants”.

Cllr Nasrin Ali 

Ali is a councillor in Manchester, and is considerned fairly unconnected to the party in Gorton. Something of a stalking horse in the race, Ali is unlikely to make it very far in the rounds. Sources in Manchester believe that now Rabnawaz Akbar has been kept off the shortlist, some of his support will go to Ali.

The selection meeting is taking place at 7pm on Wednesday night.

22 Comments

  1. treborc says:

    No so much a Black vote as a Asian vote then, with Progress and the right wing getting a man on the list, Momentum refused , Labour is as dead as it can get as far as picking what it wants

  2. Danny Speight says:

    The power of shortlisting has to be removed from the NEC and the local CLP should be able to decide for itself. This is not democracy.

    1. James Martin says:

      While I appreciate your standpoint I don’t agree. This is a by-election and so due to the national media focus and importance it has (like any other by-election potentially) the national party via the NEC must have overall control of initial shortlisting for some pretty obvious reasons. This is different to normal PPC selection where the CLP is the primary driving force.

      In terms of the politics the problem is not that of the mechanism in this instance (which in any case is a world away from the parachuting of various Spads and mates of Blair we endured under New Labour), but that the left doesn’t control the NEC, and unless that task is achieved there will always be problems elsewhere.

      1. Danny Speight says:

        James, the obvious reasons are not so obvious to me. Maybe you should list them? I feel either the local parties are trusted or they are not. The less interference from the NEC and the permanent officials the better.

        1. James Martin says:

          By-elections nearly all become national elections and therefore about the party as a whole and the leader of the party. We have just seen that with the last two just the other month, it will be the same with this one. As such normal candidate selection rules don’t apply, they never have and they never will.

          1. Danny Speight says:

            James, you seem to be just stating a fact rather than giving a reason. Aren’t all elections ‘national’? There was a time the left feared a one man one vote. Now they obviously don’t. Why fear a CLP deciding its own shortlist.

  3. JohnP says:

    Just as I predicted in my post to the earlier article . This tactical ruse was flagged up in The New Statesman last week . If all else failed the Labour Right who still dominate the shortlisting processes nationwide would rule that it was time for a “people under 5ft 10inches” shortlist – if the Left Corbynist candidate was 5ft 10inches tall !

    There appears to be still at least one claimed Corbyn-supporting Left winger amongst this all-Asian shortlist though , according to earlier posts ?

    1. Bazza says:

      Good points John.
      Wonder if the simpleton Right in Labour have ever read any of the great Left Wing literature out there in their lives?
      With them if they got their way Labour in England and Wales would follow Scotland.
      But procedural trickery can’t kill ideas.
      So for Gorton – Dar is Best By Far!

  4. Max Jackman says:

    Momentumites you have received your orders.

    The great and powerful Lansman has decreed a change of target. Wheeler out Dar in. Take to Twitter and prepare ye for perpetual opposition.

    LANSMAN HAS SPOKEN!

    1. David Parry says:

      Get back under your bridge!

  5. Tim Barlow says:

    I heard “Gorgeous” George Galloway is standing as an independent. If so, all socialists need look no further. It’s just a shame he’s not wanted in the Labour party, cos he’d be the best hope for a new leader!

    1. JohnP says:

      I thought by now almost everyone on the Left had finally twigged that Galloway is a egomaniac ,verbosely glib, but utterly unscrupulous, hugely disruptive to any party he flirts with, scoundrel, and gross male chauvinist, who has amassed a large fortune over many years by his populist faux Left posturing to a gullible liberal Left. Apparently not.

      I’ve always seen Galloway’s lifelong political opportunism, but undoubted posturing charisma, as fitting him more for the role of leader of a strasserite populist New Party. There’s certainly a political gap there to be filled in the UK , but age-wise George has missed the bus.

      1. David Pavett says:

        Agreed.

    2. James Martin says:

      It’s a disgusting decision by Galloway and the product of his ego translates into idiotic sectarianism and the potential at least of him standing against a Corbyn supporting Labour candidate (which says all you need to know about him), but whoever he ends up facing as a Labour candidate this is unwelcome.

      1. James Martin says:

        He also gave one of the most powerful speeches in Parliament against Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people – https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2017/02/gerald-kaufman/ – and faced attack after attack and ludicrous accusations of antisemitism by the Israeli-funded Zionist trolls from the likes of the misnamed ‘Campaign Against Antisemitism’ (more properly called the Campaign Against Palestine). Even after his death some of these Zionist racists continue with their attacks on him.

        Interestingly Afzal Khan who made similar, and correct, comments about the Israeli government acting like Nazis in Gaza and has got similar attacks from Zionists like the odious fabricator of antisemtism smears and chair of LFI Joan Ryan MP and it is one of the reasons why personally I would be very happy if Khan, a center-left trade union supporting candidate, was selected by the CLP membership.

        1. James Martin says:

          sorry, that was a reply to Tony’s comment belowabout Kaufman, can the mods move please?

  6. Tony says:

    “The legacy of Sir Gerald Kaufman, a man of integrity and commitment, needs to continue in the capable hands of his Labour comrades.”

    In the run up to the Iraq War, he wrote an article attacking the war but said he would vote for it anyway!

    The following year, he received a knighthood. I suspect his article was designed to remind Blair that he wanted a knighthood.

    Yes, other people have behaved as badly.
    Yes, he did have a positive side and it is sad that he has died.

  7. steve says:

    So who gets to vote for the candidate at the selection meeting and where is it held. As an affiliate member and living in Gorton, am I allowed to vote?

    1. James Martin says:

      You should do as it is done via OMOV, the unions/socialist societies role is reduced to campaigning and getting the vote out for their nominated candidate (I believe Unite have indicated support for Afzal Khan too meaning he now has significant local TU backing).

      This is slightly different to normal delegate participation in CLPs by the affiliates and where those delegates can often and without consultation/mandate from their own members block attempts to initiate a Trigger Ballot to reselect a sitting MP. This happened in my own CLP a few years wgo and meant that while two thirds of branch (ward) delegates supported a trigger (and were mandated to do so) that was reversed with the union/socialist societies and being a member of one of the affected affiliated unions and the coop party who both supported the right-wing MP I knew they hadn’t consulted or got a mandate – it is traditionally in my experience one of the weak areas for the left who tend to concentrate on the CLP structures and don’t join up the dots with the union affiliates which in turn gives the TU bureaucracy free reign.

  8. David Boothroyd says:

    My impression from Yasmine Dar’s twitter timeline was that she backed Andy Burnham in 2015. Luthfur Rahman seems to have backed Yvette Cooper then.

    Nasrin Ali also seems to have backed Andy Burnham in 2015 but is now generally supportive of the leadership; she retweeted Eoin Clarke arguing that the leadership crisis in 2016 was the PLP vs. the membership.

  9. peter willsman says:

    James,there have been at least two all-BAME shortlists-ask Ann Black for details.Gorton is some 40% BAME and has been represented by a white,male,Oxford,public schoolboy for some 45 years.Sam Wheeler is also a white,male,Oxford,public schoolboy,who is in his twenties.So another 45 years!!Sam is working class.but in case people haven’t noticed,almost all of BAME are working class.CLPD has had a policy for 37 years of advancing good BAME candidates in seats with a large BAME demographic.I am surprised how many ‘lefties’are throw backs to the 1950s.

    1. James Martin says:

      Is that directed against me Peter, and if so why?

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