The by-election selection battle could be bloody
A few days ago there was an excellent piece in the Manchester Evening News about Gorton constituency Labour party and the ongoing fights within it between the warring factions.
It has been so bad that it has effectively been under special measures for well over a decade and the choice of who’ll take over what appears to be a totally safe seat will bring this out into the open.
“Last year a mammoth falling-out between different factions and personalities reached its zenith at a Levenshulme branch meeting. As with all things to do with Gorton CLP it can be difficult to get to the actual facts – but suffice to say the police were called in amid claims of vote-rigging, abuse and intimidation.
A letter from regional office to the CLP at the time said allegations ‘related to the conduct of Labour party members both during and outside of Labour party meetings’, as well as to ‘the conduct of members of the CLP executive committee in administering internal ballots’.
It had received complaints from members fearing for their safety, it added.”
One of the key drivers of the splits has been who should replace Sir Gerald Kaufman who died last week at the age of 86. Seats like this don’t come up that often and the assumption must be that whoever gets it will effectively have a job for life provided they can surmount the hurdle of the by-election itself.
That on the face of it should be a dead certainty but there’s a lot of worry within the LAB camp echoed by local MP and the woman said to be Corbyn’s favoured successor, Rebecca Long-Bailey. She said
MPs couldn’t “ever call a seat a safe seat nowadays” when asked about the upcoming Manchester Gorton by-election.
While LAB has been struggling even to agree the process of how the selection will operate the LDs, who after the Iraq war held 19 of the 21 council seats in the constituency, have chosen their candidate and got their first leaflets out. Their candidate is someone who for 21 years was a councillor in the area and unlike UKIP’s man in Stoke has a PhD. Hers was in nuclear physics.
Whatever Labour’s difficulties which will get a lot of attention it is very hard to conclude that the red team could lose. This is the party’s seventh safest seat and the LDs were a long way back at GE2015.
I’m on them at 14/1 on Betfair and certainly am not tempted by the 11/2 that some bookies now have them at.
I should add that I have a special interest in this constituency because it is the place where I was born and I know it well.