OK so the long listing for the Labour Party candidate selection has been announced and it contains no surprises and some glaring omissions.
The complete list is, in alphabetical order:
Cllr Sam Corcoran
Cllr Allison Gardner
Cllr Olwen Hamer
Cllr Dr Stephen Hitchin
Cllr Michael Payne
Cllr Gareth Snell
Cllr Mike Stubbs
Let me say this – there are some very strong and capable candidates on this list. The moderate or centrist faction of the local party can have no complaints whatsoever however, the left of the local party, or the Corbynistas, are going to be pretty miffed!
The No Surprises
In my humble opinion, the two stand out candidates and favourites to be shortlisted are Trudie McGuiness and Gareth Snell.
Trudie was the PPC for the Staffordshire Moorlands in 2015 and fought a credible campaign but lost out to Karen Bradley. She got 27.2% of the vote which was down by 2.7% on the previous election but when you consider the performance of the Labour Party nationally under Ed Miliband, the result wasn’t too bad.
Gareth entered the race at the eleventh hour and as soon as his application hit it was inevitable he would get an interview. He has experience of the constituency and has support within the CLP. If Mark Meredith gets onto the shortlist, some of that support could dilute. But I don’t think the party would take the risk with the former elected mayor and I don’t see Olwen Hamer getting anywhere either if I’m brutally honest.
So without going into a in depth critique of each name on the list – I’ll simply say that I expect the shortlist to comprise of between two and five names.
Those in the know – have Trudie as the ‘preferred’ candidate.
The local lefties will be incandescent that no local left wing candidate was deemed suitable to interview. The party is now overwhelmingly pro-Corbyn. All three CLP’s lean in his direction. There is a network of Corbynistas who would have held group discussions with a view to supporting a couple of their most capable.
Ruth Rosenau was definitely one that would have had substantial support from those of a left wing persuasion. She, along with others, campaigned tirelessly to get Corbyn elected both times. She was key to bringing Corbyn to the city and she bangs the drum at every opportunity. But she was out of the local party after a long and sometimes public spat with Pervez and the regional office. I had phone calls from national figures who were desperate to get her onto the long list. But it was the suspension that was to be her undoing.
The other glaring omission was Chris Spence. Again, he has support among his peers. His work in his ward is without question. He along with Ruth and others is an ardent supporter of the current party leader. He campaigns for Corbyn, he is instrumental in Red Labour. His nose is clean, he has no baggage so why no long listing and why no interview? Maybe they just didn’t like his beard..
The local Labour clique will be delighted with the list, their favourites are there. The local left wing groups will be pretty pissed that none of their local comrades have made the grade or were deemed good enough to at least get an interview. They may well feel that comrade Corbyn has let them down maybe even abandoned them.
I also wouldn’t rule out putting Dr Hitchens on the shortlist for the NHS issue, particularly as Paul Nuttall is pro-privatisation of Labour’s flagship achievement and he is also left leaning.
Don’t rule out it being two men and two women either. Allison Gardner has just got accepted onto the Jo Cox programme and I wouldn’t be surprised if she was given the experience of a selection hearing.
But the real story here isn’t about who gets on the shortlist – it’s all about who hasn’t, why and by whom they were prevented from proceeding.
Corbynism is alive and kicking in Stoke-on-Trent but you would not think so after this experience. His local followers failed to make any progress thus preventing the opportunity to promote his policies among the people of Stoke-on-Trent Central via the medium of Parliament.
From my wing of the party – we’re alright Jack!