Stoke-on-Trent Central Labour Longlist Names Start To Emerge [Updated]

The names that have made the Labour Party longlist for the vacancy for the candidacy of Stoke-on-Trent Central have started to emerge.

The two favourites Tristram Hunt and Byron Taylor have made the list as expected.

Local candidates Jane Heggie and Sarah Hill’s inclusion means that there will at least be a local presence at the interviews in London on Monday.

The rest of the longlist will be made up of names not known in the City but is thought to include a Doctor from Coventry and an Asian guy from the West Midlands.

The 10 or 11 names that have made the shortlist will be interviewed in London on Monday and from that there will be a shortlist chosen will will comprise of 4 or 5 names who will go forward to the hustings on 1st April In Stoke.

Sources have indicated that there will not be a postal ballot as previously thought. It appears that there will be a vote on the night.

At this stage the focus is on those who for what ever reason did not make the longlist.

Gary Elsby will now be considering whether to step outside of the party and become the 11th candidate who will contest the Election. He will be bitterly disappointed that he has not made the longlist especially as he was on the Parliamentary list a short while ago.

Cllr Adrian Knapper is another well known Labour Party name excluded fro the list. This will come as a huge disappointment to Adrian who has only ever served the Stoke Central Constituency since he joined the Party. He is a serving City Councillor for the Berryhill and Hanley East ward.

Adrian has released the following Statement:

With regards my attempt to gain the selection of the vacant nomination for the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Labour.

I wish to thank the many ordinary people of the potteries who have come up to me in the Street and wished me well. The warmth of local people has been second to none and has given me faith that I have the respect of the electorate.

On this occasion the National Selection Panel that sits outside the City, have decided not to include my name within the shortlist of candidates.

Within Stoke-on-Trent many members of the local Labour Party have expressed concerns about the heavy hand of the regional office and the NEC, especially with the dealing around the Central 3, who have been dedicated long serving members of the local Labour Party.

All sides that have been involved within this dispute must now unite and realize that we all belong to the Labour Party with solid values and principles of the aim to serve the people to make lives and futures better for all.

Every Labour member in Stoke-on-Trent must now stand in support of the name of the individual who is selected by the local Membership to be the Labour Party PPC and campaign to make that individual the next Member of Parliament for Stoke Central.

I will now be seeking re-election to be a Councillor in the Local Elections and hope that the people in Berryhill & Hanley East Ward will put their faith in me, by voting Labour and re-electing me to be their City Councillor.

Former Labour Elected Mayor Mark Meredith has also been rejected at this early stage.

Cllr Tom Reynolds has also failed to get onto the longlist. This, quite frankly, I find amazing and it certainly fuels speculation that the chosen two are to be given a clear run.

Tom has released this statement:

I have been informed by the compliance unit that I won’t be invited to interview for the Stoke-Central parliamentary selection.

I’m really disappointed, as I believe I would have done a good job for Labour and the people of Stoke-Central. However I know there is a very good list of quality people still in the frame, and I know that we will have an excellent candidate for the seat in the next election. I’ll offer whoever wins the selection my full support.

I’m now turning my attention to ensuring the Labour stands up for Stoke in the council chamber, and I’ll be running for office within the Labour Group at our annual general meeting.

Informed sources are suggesting that the eventual shortlist will consist of Tristram Hunt, Byron Taylor, Jane Heggie and Sarah Hill [possibly one more].

If that is the case there will be a suspicion of a bit of Labour Party ‘social engineering’ given the fact that Stoke-on-Trent Central CLP have had issues with both Jane and Sarah which will probably pave the way for either the party favourite Tristram Hunt or union favourite Byron Taylor.

We will keep you updated as the situation unfurls.

More Labour Names Emerge For Stoke Central – D4S Will Not Field Candidates.

As well as the plethora of local names linked to the vacancy for the Labour Party candidacy for Stoke-on-Trent Central, two names from outside of the City have been linked.

Locally, Sarah Hill Chair of the City Labour Party, City Councillors Tom Reynolds and Adrian Knapper as well as Jane Heggie the local Labour Party Election Coordinator are the names up for consideration by the party’s Special Selection Panel [SSP].

Gary Elsby is very much out of favour with the Regional Officers and the paid enforcers of the NEC, but is known to have considerable support from within the Constituency who want his name to be on the short list of possible candidates who will go forward to the hustings in front of the entire membership of Stoke-on-Trent Central.

This weekend two names from outside the area have emerged and are considered certain favourites to make the short list.

36 year old historian, broadcaster and columnist Tristram Hunt is known to be under consideration.

He lives in Haringey and was unsuccessful in his attempt to win selection for the Liverpool West Derby ward in 2007 which was eventually won by Steven Twigg.

Hunt is said to be championed by the Labour leadership and is the friend of Lord Mandelson and has worked for both him and Alistair Campbell at Labour Party HQ.

He was recently linked to the London seat of Leyton and Wanstead.

He is married with a son and a daughter.

The other name linked is that of Byron Taylor.

Taylor has been the National Officer of the Trade Union & Labour Party Liaison Organisation [TULO], which co-ordinates union support for the Labour Party, for the past seven years.

He comes from a working class family with strong Labour Party ties. He has been involved with the party since 1994. He lived in the West Midlands whilst attending University and currently lives in London with his wife Jenefer and their daughter.

Writing on his own website he said:

I’m often asked “What do you stand for?” I’m proud to describe myself as a modern socialist ““ committed to reducing inequalities of power, wealth, and living standards, but always recognising the need to convince the public that our solutions lead towards a better society. My key political interests include the future of our economy including employment and labour standards as well as taxation, defence and quality public services for all.

Speaking on Twitter a couple of days ago he tweeted “Looking to head up to Stoke on Trent on Thursday” and then “Have decided to put myself forward for Stoke-on-Trent Central”

He also Tweeted yesterday and said “Meeting local activists in Stoke – busy day!”

We have received this Press Statement from Democracy4Stoke which confirms their future intentions:

D4S – No to Putting Forward Candidates

At a D4S meeting last Wednesday night, the organisation confirmed its non party political commitment following mounting media speculation that it would field candidates in the 2010 election.

D4S spokesman, Alan Joynson, is adamant that Democracy 4 Stoke’s strength is in its independence from political parties, he said:

“Our aims have always been to drive forward changes to improve local democracy for the benefit of everybody. That is our only agenda and the foundation of our success in bringing together a broad community action campaign that includes everyone from all parties and non. Anyone is welcome to join us and campaign with us at any time, and that’s the way it will stay.

This commitment will be reaffirmed at our AGM next month.

The Names In The Frame – But Beware Of Who Comes Up On The Rails!

Now that the dust is settling on the news that Stoke-on-Trent Central MP Mark Fisher is to step down on health grounds, names are emerging thick and fast for the vacancy

As previously reported on this site City Labour Party Chair Sarah Hill and Election Organiser Jane Heggie were the first names to be linked.

I can reveal that other names that have been linked with the vacancy include Labour Councillors Tom Reynolds and Adrian Knapper.

Another name to be linked is that of Alison Wedgwood, a Labour Party Member and wife of Tom Wedgwood.

Gary Elsby is desperate to be a candidate after 30 years dedicated loyal service to the Labour Party. His timely removal from the parliamentary list has thrown his candidature into serious doubt. He is committed to standing as an MP in the area he has served for many years. It is rumoured that he has the support of a large section of the membership in the constituency. The sad fact is he may have to step outside of his beloved party to achieve this. I think he is totally prepared to do this.

Alison Wedgwood is rather an unknown quantity. She was in Stoke-on-Trent South for a time and is now a member of Stoke-on-Trent Central. My information would lead me to believe that she is not that active a member and does not attend many meetings.

Adrian Knapper is based in Nantwich which will not be a problem for him as far as being a Labour PPC but there are members who question whether he should be allowed to stand as a City Councillor. I don’t think it makes a difference where he lives as long as he’s able to cope with the workload. Some people in Stoke Central are against him because of his time in the EMB and his support for the policies of the previous Elected Mayor. I think people underestimate Adrian, he is ambitious and committed and his suggestion that the long service of Mark Fisher be recognised by the City is both honourable and credible.

Tom Reynolds is a guy I have had a lot of contact with. He is a councillor for the ward in which I live and we have worked together on issues like anti-social behaviour and schools/BSF. Tom is always accessible. He is compassionate and caring and has strong but progressive Labour values. He is extremely well liked in our ward and I think he would make a very capable and hard working MP. He is a guy who has a strong social conscious and would work tirelessly for his constituency. Whether Labour members in Stoke Central hold the same view is an entirely different matter. He would no doubt, through his association with Rob Flello MP, be viewed as one of ‘those West Midlands’ crowd.

Wouldn’t it be positive if all those who have expressed an interest in standing shared their vision for Stoke-on-Trent Central with us through this site. We would welcome their involvement even if they chose to contribute without allowing people to comment on their submissions.

There are also names from outside of the City being linked to this Labour safe seat

The selection criteria is expected to be announced on Friday and it is rumoured that there will be an eventual shortlist of 80% women and 20% men which could mean that by the time the Special Selection Panel, the NEC and the Regional Office have finished with the cull of names, the rank and file membership could be left with the choice of just 4 females and 1 male candidates.

The Labour Party have to act quickly and decisively on this issue. They have to show some sympathy for the views and opinions of the rank and file members in Stoke Central. Why not try and claw some form of respectability back and allow their ‘preferred’ candidates to go up against those that are wanted by core members and work on the old adage of best man/woman wins.

I admit that I would find the prospect of a hustings where Sarah Hill, Jane Heggie, Tom Reynolds and Adrian Knapper went up against the likes of Gary Elsby on a stage answering the same questions in the same pressurised environment.

I have a lot of time for both Tom Reynolds and Gary Elsby and would love to see them go head to head in a hustings. Both love the Labour Party, but both have perhaps a different starting point. Both their own men, Tom the new kid on the block and Gary who has waited for his chance since the early 80’s when he joined the party around the same time as I did.

How intriguing would it be to see Sarah Hill and Jane Heggie vying for the same votes when they both have a similar outlook on the Labour Party, where it is today and which direction it needs to travel in next.

The danger for Labour though is that they are so focused on themselves and their own ambitions that they are in mortal danger of allowing a runner to come up through the pack on the rails.

Whilst Labour are busy jockeying for position, the Conservatives are mounting a confident campaign. Norsheen Bhatti is no also ran. She has the backing of an assured campaigning team and the reports I am getting is that she is getting a very positive reaction.

Another Independent candidate is about to enter the fray in the guise of the Deputy Leader of the City Council, Brian Ward. He is a thoroughly nice guy and a confident speaker who’s key skill is the ability to interact with the electorate. I think he has a real chance of polling very well. Constituents in Blurton speak very highly of him and that appeal could transfer over to Abbey Hulton, Bucknall and Bentilee which are similar areas of social housing.

Of course the far right vote is heading for a split. Alby Walker who is enormously popular in Abbey Green and has a City wide profile will surely take votes off the BNP PPC Simon Darby. Darby disappointed some of the electorate with his no show at the YMCA organised Youth Hustings last week. He also missed a massive opportunity to engage with the young and first time voters. Just how many entrances are there to the Victoria Hall? If only he had contacted the organisers he could have escaped the few protesters that had gathered to greet him.

The Lib Dems will just plod and have no real chance in my opinion. They will mount a very low key campaign that will lack the flash, bang, wallop, needed to make a real impact.

Paul Breeze who failed to retain the Mayoral system when he campaigned against Mike Barnes and Democracy4Stoke is also standing as an Independent.

Matthew Wright is the Candidate for The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.

There will also be a candidate from the National Front who will serve only to fragment the far right vote even further.

Interesting times I’m sure you will agree…..