How it could go wrong for LAB in South Shields: 1. The manner of the selection and choice of the candidate

How it could go wrong for LAB in South Shields: 1. The manner of the selection and choice of the candidate

Memories of how David Miliband got it in 2001 could be revived

Already there are rumblings in South Shields about who LAB should choose for the super-safe seat in the coming by-election partly because the national party has got “form” in the area.

This, according to Wikipedia entry on Miliband’s predecessor in the constituency, the former cabinet minister, David Clark is what happened in 2001.

“Clark sought reselection by the South Shields Constituency Labour Party in order to contest the 2001 General Election for the seat. However, control of the constituency Party had swung in favour of a vocal group of critics, led by a faction within South Tyneside Council, who feared Clark actually intended to stand down when the General Election was called, thus enabling the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee to parachute a favoured candidate into the Constituency historically a safe Labour seat.

During the reselection contest Clark vigorously denied the claims and told the Shields Gazette newspaper advising he had every intention of contesting the General Election. In the event, Clark won reselection but only with support of regional trade union barons.

When Prime Minister Tony Blair announced the date of the General Election in 2001, Clark immediately stood down and the Labour Party NEC moved swiftly, New Labour rising star David Miliband was selected to fight the seat.

Within weeks of the Labour Party winning the 2001 General Election, Clark was given a life peerage as Baron Clark of Windermere, of Windermere in the County of Cumbria and now sits in the House of Lords. He was also appointed the paid post of Chairman of the Forestry Commission.

Unlike general elections when the government of the country is at stake the choice of who should be the candidate and the manner in which the process is handled can matter enormously.

Ukip will be watching every step closely for an opening that they can exploit.

In the betting Labour remain a super strong odds on favourite to retain the seat. PaddyPower have them at 1/25 with Ukip on 16/1. Ukip is odds-on favourite to be ahead of the Tories and to come second.

Mike Smithson

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