What’s going on with Manchester Central?

20th March, 2012 1:30 pm

Update i: We’re now hearing that the selection will take place on April 16th, but that the by-election is likely to take place on November 15th (at the same time as the Police Commissioner election). That’s likely to be the case for all such by-elections.

Update ii: The selection timetable is as follows:

CVs – must be received by 12noon on Friday 23 March.

Interviews for shortlisted candidates –  Wednesday 28 March

Selection – Monday 16 April


Since Tony Lloyd’s recent selection as Labour’s Police Commissioner candidate in Manchester, there has been much speculation that the upcoming by-election in Manchester Central will be selected from an all-women shortlist (AWS). However, speaking to LabourList last night, a senior party source categorically denied that Manchester Central would be an AWS selection. When we sought to clarify this, we were told to have a look through every previous byelection selection and “work it out”.

No previous by-election selection has ever taken place with an all-woman shortlist. Having a first AWS for this seat would likely prove contentious both in the seat itself, and potentially in Labour HQ too.

Another potential bone of contention is the point at which Tony Lloyd must resign as an MP – which has a knock on effect for the date of the by-election. Luke Akehurst’s report from the NEC’s organisation sub-committee last week revealed that “Labour MPs selected as Mayoral or Police Commissioner candidates will have to resign from the Commons and trigger by-elections.” That would suggest that Lloyd would be expected to resign imminently and trigger a by-election in a matter of weeks. However we have subsequently heard that this point is being debated by the NEC today, meaning that the date of Lloyd’s resignation, and the byelection, remain unconfirmed. (See update)

Regardless of the selection date or the decision re: AWS, the frontrunner for the seat is considered to be Ed Miliband’s tenacious Deputy Chief of Staff Lucy Powell. A candidate in the last election in Manchester Withington, Powell has a great deal of support in Manchester. Questions about whether her position on the new Executive Board  are a “conflict of interest” (as reported last week by the Guardian), could be alleviated by rumours that Powell is on a six week sabbatical from the leader’s office and is campaigning in Manchester.

Other potential candidates include local councillors Mike Amesbury, Afzal Khan and Rosa Battle – we’ll be profiling the frontrunners (and some potential major dark horses) when the by-election date is announced.

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  • Chilbaldi

    Is it a bird? No!

    Is it a plane? No!

    Is it…. No, It is a plane flying overhead, dropping a Westminster politico wearing a parachute!

    • John Ruddy

      You mean one with a connection to Machester having previously been a candidate in a neighbouring seat? Not so much a parachute more a Tram ride?

      • When the parachute belongs to Ed Miliband’s Deputy Chief of Staff its a parachute even if she jumped into here own locality.

        • No, no – just not the case, she’s been around for ages and then went to work for Ed. 

  • I am all in favour of a woman candidate in Manchester Central.

    But I would prefer the candidate to be lesbian.  This is one of the constituencies in the UK with a high number of gay and lesbian voters, and I see no reason why, if selection shortlists prefer women, they should not also, on occasion, prefer LGBT people.

    At the very least, the candidate needs to be very openly and overtly pro-LGBT (which is not true of all Labour candidates).

    And, perhaps more importantly, the candidate needs to have strong roots in the greater Manchester area.  

    The very worst thing would be a parachuted in SPAD with a PPE from the South-East.

    • Alexwilliamz

      On this logic surely you would be denying all the heterosexual voters in the area a representative?

      • If not AWS in some places, and, effectively all people of colour short lists in others, why not an LGBT short list for a very LGBT area?

        • Alexwilliamz

          I’m not sure how LGBT an area it is, but the purpose of all women short lists was not to ‘fit’ candidates to a perceived consituency characteristics, but to balance the intake of the party. I think we need to increase women in general, one would presume in doing so a proportion would be lesbian without the requirement for this to be an issue in their selection.

          • It would be interesting to see if any LGBT candidates come forward, but frankly the Labour LGBT contingent in Manchester is far too Blairite to get my support!

  • Mr Chippy

    I am in favour of a non-Oxbridge educated candidate.

    • treborc

       A socialist will do.

      • Alexwilliamz

        Do they go to Oxford or Cambridge anymore?

  • Valeriestevens

    I don’t who is referred to by SPAD or parchute. Lucy Powell was born in Manchester, went to school in Manchester and lives in Manchester. There has never been a Labour woman MP in Manchester. That is a line of men for over 100 years.

    • Chilbaldi

      I will reserve judgment about whether it is a parachute or not until the following happens:

      a) the victor is anounced; and

      b) the feathers fly in the aftermath and all the stories of a Victoria Street stitch up come out, if they do.

    • “Lucy Powell was born in Manchester, went to school in Manchester and lives in Manchester.”
      *Where was she born?*

      *Where did she go to school?*


      *Where does she live?*Class (and class of origin) should be taken into account.

      I don’t know anything about this woman, and she might be a great MP,  but if you were born in, for example, Didsbury, had professional class parents, went to a selective or private school within Manchester, and lives in a posh neighbourhood, so what.Such a person is no more representative of Manchester  Central than the awful Luciana Berger is of Liverpool Wavertree.

      We don’t want any more Luciana’s in the North West.

      • A bit of poking around on the Guardian led to 

        Good, Ms. Powell went to a Comprehensive (Parrs Wood – in Didsbury admittedly!).  That alone makes her worth consideration.
        Is that class bias?

        You betcha.

        • Chilbaldi

          thank goodness most of the electorate aren’t as chippy as you

        • Alexwilliamz

          Paul, what is your issue with Didsbury for goodness sake. Do you think it is some kind of gated community where only the ‘privileged’ may pass. There is plenty of diversity in the area like any established part of Manchester. I think you are making yourself look a little ridiculous here.

          • I was merely pointing out that claiming to be born and schooled in Manchester does not really amount to good local working class kudos because of the class segregated housing and education available in the city.

          • Alexwilliamz

            But it does suggest a familiarity and affinity with the area which I think is the point of the local links rather than any claims to be from one class or another for what that is worth.

          • Alexwilliamz

            Can you explain what you mean by class segregated housing and is this a tautology?

          • Brumanuensis

            Jesus, you’re giving the cause of diversifying the MP intake a bad name with this pettiness. Why do your points require you to continually deprecate Lucy Powell?   

        • Class is the elephant in the room for New Labour. Diversity is fine and dandy just as long as all representatives of diversity are taken from the middle class, preferably oxbridge educated.

      • Chilbaldi

        Paul, that is awful prejudicial stuff. What I seek in a candidate:

        – a local link is nice but not absolutely necessary (brought up in the area, went to university in the area, once lived in the area will do)

        – sound political principles, that they have thought out and grown into all by themselves

        – Labour values

        – Has had a real job that has heped form their worldview

        – is intelligent

        Do you really hold it against someone if they were brought up in Didsbury? My god. Whether their father was a doctor and sent the kid to selective or private school is completely irrelevant too.

        • I think it is relevant.  

          Only 7% of the population went to private schools, which by definition represent the naked effort by rich parents to buy advantage for one’s own children over the children of others.So it is deeply shocking that 35% of MPs overall in 2010 went to private schools, and that includes 20% of Labour MPs.Such people, *who by definition owe their professional advance to their parents’ income*, I don’t think, can ever really understand what it is to need a council house, have to rely on state schools, or the National Health Service.They do not represent a meritocracy but its precise opposite.And Labour should stop selecting them as candidates.Figures from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/increase-in-number-of-mps-from-private-schools-1970414.html

          • AlanGiles

            I don’t think, can ever really understand what it is to need a council house,”

            I agree absolutely Paul. With two landslide majorities Blair could have ensured that new council housing was built to replace that sold off since 1980, but, as Dave Stone told us a few weeks ago, when Hazel Blears was asked about this she replied that nobody in Blair’s cabinet “was interested in housing”. I wonder how many MPs now in Parliament started life in a council house?.

            In London the last major programme of council house building was in the mid 70s.

          • treborc

            That’s not quite right, Blair was interested in housing, he was interested in banking and Mortgages, what he was not interested in was social housing.

            Ms Flint told us about the social housing ghettoes and sink hole estates of skivvers scroungers and work shy.

      • I agree. Clem Attlee was a terrible PM, and I think we can put that down to his middle class background and selective education.

        Or we could grow up and realise that the Labour Party exists to give everybody the same opportunities the wealthy have, not to demonise those who come from more privileged backgrounds without even pausing to consider their politics.

        • It’s not a question of demonising them, it is a question of saying that part of the reason the Labour Party has been losing working class voters is that they are just sick of upper middle and upper class people claiming as many Labour seats as possible.

          And, while it is is true that MPs can represent people from different backgrounds, it is equally true that at least some members of parliament should come from the class background that the Party claims to represent.

          And frankly, I am not impressed by the whining of the upper middle classes.

          • treborc

            I agree, so is that here here or hear hear.

          • ThePurpleBooker

            Gosh, you need to shut up.
            Labour was founded by the Fabians, radical liberals, Christian Socialists, social democrats, trade unions and co-operatives – all from different backgrounds. Working-class people do not OWN the Labour Party, we are a One Nation party which stands up for everyone. But what you are doing is playing “divide and rule” politics, because of your delusional, scapegoating and you irrational comments. There is no sane rationale behind anything you have said.

          • “One Nation” is, in UK terms, a slogan from Disraeli’s Tories.

            I don’t dislike Disraeli as such, but it is shocking – quite shocking – that someone should advance his slogan as a Labour virtue.I, for one, am not for “one nation”.  I want to deprive the wealthy of the wealth they have expropriated from the real wealth producers. And I want to redistribute it to the broad majority.

            At a time when the very richest have been arrogating more and more of GDP to themselves, I think this is even more desirable.I understand that this is no longer the current Clause 4 of the Labour Party, but doing just this was the *mission statement* for the Party for most of it’s history.

          • Steven Farquhar

            redistribute back to the produces.  Why dont you stand for letting the working man get what he earns.  The core issue (and note I stood as as a prospective conservative counciller in hackney) is the games the tories are successfully playing now to seperate workers from the wealth they are, and will, create.  Its not redistribution, its fair distribution, its not leveling, its letting people keep what they earn.  The truth is simple, the truth is honest and most importantly more even distribution of wealth creates higher economic growth FACT.

        • ThePurpleBooker

          Thank you!

      • Paul Lynch

        What a disgrace of a post, and a slander against Ms. Berger, who is doing a cracking job in Wavertree. What I want from an MP is simply someone who will work hard for their constituents, no matter what their background.

        • Wouldn’t it be better if a working class person from Wavertree had got the position, rather than some upper middle class parachuted candidate who had a privileged education at a private girls’ school in Hertfordshire?

          I certainly cannot see how, in a constituency with 38,000 voters, not one local person could be found.

          • Brumanuensis

            I’m not Luciana Berger’s biggest fan – although she’s done a better job than I anticipated with the climate brief – but whilst a measure of localism is desirable, we don’t want to turn hyper-parochial in the process.

            She did increase the Labour vote in percentage and absolute terms, after all. She must have connected with the electorate in some way. 

      • You might want to trace Lucy’s ancestry whilst your at it Paul..

        • You mean that she was related in some way to Manny Shinwell?

      • ThePurpleBooker

        I am sorry but if you are going to continue with the horrible class-war sentiments you should reconsider your membership of our party. What is wrong, with having middle-class MPs and she went to a comprehensive in Didsbury, she is from Manchester. I mean come off it, you are being rude stupid and bloody obtuse.
        I would like Afzal Khan to be the candidate, but gosh just shut up!

        • Look, I suppose I am pretty middle class in education (Ph.D and all that), but none of that would have have happened without the state’s support.

          I find it outrageous that *class* issues are deemed problematic on a Labour site.

          What part of “socialism” did you not understand?

          • Mr Chippy

            I agree Paul. Why no condemnation of the current class war being perpetrated against working class people? Warren Buffet recently said there is a class war and we are winning.

          • Winston_from_the_Ministry

             Yes, but he framed class differently to “upper, middle, lower” didn’t he?

  • David Talbot

    It’s Lucy Powell’s to lose really, isn’t it.

    I was at Manchester Uni till 2009 whilst she was the parliamentary candidate in Manchester Withington. She did a great job and certainly didn’t deserve to lose.

    She went to Oxbridge though, so that will automatically disqualify her for some. Though I don’t think that is a subject that can be changed as there are enough morons that will always boo when you mention ‘Oxbridge’.

    • Chilbaldi

      You miss the point re Oxbridge. It’s more of a groan that says ‘oh gawd, not another clone’ than anything.

      Then there are those who recognise an inexplicable deference towards Oxbridge throughout society, and who rebel against that.

    • I am not a moron.

      I have no objection to highly educated candidates, but THERE IS A PROBLEM when all the “highly educated” candidates just happen to come from Oxbridge.

      We have too many Tristam Hunts in the Labour Party’s parliamentary cadre.(How the hell did he get selected for Stoke? What a disgrace!

      And, please, please,. spare me the “poor nice Oxbridge grad” lament.

      There are people from many different backgrounds who deserve to be represented.

      More than that, the current right-leaning “sensible” upper middle class Labour MPs in parliament have been a disaster.

      And they all only got in because of the weakness of CLPs.

      • That’s idiotic. Highly educated candidates are disproportionately likely to come from Oxbridge because those universities take a disproportionate amount of the best applicants, especially where post-graduate study is concerned.

        There is a problem in that there are too few MPs from working class backgrounds in the Labour Party and too many who have spent more or less their entire working lives in the party’s employ, but there have been plenty of dreadful MPs who came from good trade union backgrounds and more than a few Oxbridge grads (from working and non-working class backgrounds) who have been firmly on the left of the party.

        • Chilbaldi

           Not true. One only needs to look at the narrow backgrounds of Oxbridge students to realise that the universities cannot possibly hoover up the best applicants. Oxford and Cambridge are finishing schools.

          Besides, (and I speak as someone who attained straight As at A Level), the grades you get at school age 18 are a god awful way to judge who are the best.

          So quit the deference towards Oxbridge. It is views such as yours which ensure that Oxford and Cambridge dominate politics, law, [insert profession here].

        • Mr Chippy

          25% of MPs went to Oxbridge. Less than 1% of adults went to these institutions. This is a diversity issue.

          I also challenge the premise of your argument. Oxford and Cambridge are undoubtedly great universities but not in everything they do. Some subjects are taught better in other universities. They also do not attract all the best undergraduates and do not turn out all the best graduates. And how do you compare a higher degree from a less prestigious university with a lower degree from Oxbridge? But what has more kudos?

          Sorry I feel that Oxbridge acts as a form of freemasons lodge in many parts of society (politics, civil service, BBC, law). Hence my positing name.

          • Dave Postles

             Mr Chippy.
            No reason to feel defensive about it; you have a strong point.

        • Alexwilliamz

          Highly educated or highly qualified? Also do we really believe that high academic qualifications are the key attribute for a democratically elected representative. I think not I’d rather see  a criteria that candidates have to to have work outside the media or politics for a couple of years before they can be selected.

           I also think we have a major issue with education and class in this country and the ‘elite’ universities and the ranking of universities lies at the heart. Until some impartial way of selecting students for uni can be established we will never be free from it.

          • treborc

            Just like that good old Welsh stalwart Nye Bevan……. had to get him in….

      • Well said Paul. There are plenty of community activists doing valuable work and who have cut their teeth in field rather than in Westminster – why don’t they ever get a look-in?

        Well we all know the answer.

        It’s about time Labour became a party of the people not a club for the privileged.

      • As I live in the neighbouring constituency to Tristram and was brought up in a private house (sorry my parents moved here before I was born), went to a Special School not a comprehensive (sorry, I was born disabled), never went to University (they weren’t wheelchair accessible at the time), I’m not sure whether or not I fit your boxes of being a suitable member of the Labour Party.  What I would say is that since 1945 there have been three Parliamentary seats in Stoke-on-Trent, only three MPs were born in the City – one very discourteously was born in Poland of all places (Dr Barnett Stross), and even the person most perceive to be local (George Stevenson) was born in Yorkshire.

        Whilst Tristram Hunt’s selection (to replace the Old Etonian, Oxbridge educated Mark Fisher) was certainly unsavoury he has more than successfully united the Constituency Party, increased its membership and campaigning activity, and seen the total wipeout, along with his Stoke South colleague Robert Flello (a foreigner from Birmingham) of the nine BNP councillors that had wormed their way onto the City Council.  He has taken on numerous local campaigns, not all successfully, and secured a Labour voice through his weekly column in our local (Daily Mail owned) newspaper that has never existed before.

        For the first time in my 26 years Labour Party membership, Tristram Hunt’s Stoke Central is looked at as a role model for how a CLP should operate, and if you took some time to lose the mega-chip on your shoulder and spent that time fighting to secure the election of Labour candidates up and down the ticket, you would be a more productive asset to the Labour Party than your current whingeing makes you appear.

  • Brumanuensis

    I’m wary of Lucy Powell being selected. Not because I think she’s unqualified in some way – as has been pointed out, she’s from Manchester, was brought up in Manchester, lives in Manchester and has fought a Manchester seat before – but because she’s very close to Ed Miliband. I haven’t got anything against Ed, but I would prefer if we tried to maintain the independence of the PLP and not promote too many former advisors onto the backbenches.

    On the other hand, at least she isn’t another PPE graduate. Far too many of those*.

    *I speak as a PPE graduate

  • Potential runners: what about Afzal Khan’s daughter? She was a councillor in Manchester from 2006 to 2010 and fought Bury North in GE 2010

    • My Dad lives in Bury North and, of course voted Labour.  Still, he considered Maryam Khan to be an externally imposed candidate.  Labour lost what in that case could have been a winnable seat.

      • She was an excellent candidate – and was selected by the local party there. Hardly an external imposition for Bury to choose a Manchester councillor!

        • Stuart King

          I think there IS an issue about the lack of diversity within the PLP, so Paul Halsall has a point (although he makes it in an appallingly chippy and off putting way).  However, Lucy Powell is the wrong case for him to cite – her selection would be the result of a local party selecting a talented local candidate.  

          (I also think he could have been a little more gracious when his assumption that she was privately educated was disproved)

          • Stuart,

            I posted first, but then *I* checked and I did apologise.I am willing to apologise more if necessary.  

            Lucy Powell seems to be a very decent candidate, and she may well have been so even if she went to a private school.  Still, I am *massively* reassured that she went to a comp.  That, at least, means she met people of all social stripes.

            Frankly, I find it reassuring that Ed Miliband went to a comp as well (even Haverstock Hill).

            Are these class issues?  


          • JWis221300

            I have lobbed my name in John Wiseman

          • Wheelchair1991

            i think you place to much emphasis on somebody’s class when selecting a candidate

  • Eddiedarke

    There is a rumour going around the North East that the shadow home secretary favourite candidate for the Northumbria Police Commissioner is Vera Baird the ex-MP who representative Redcar in Cleveland. Why did she not go to be the candidate for Police Commissioner in that area instead of Northumbria? Where has she been since losing her seat in Redcar certainly not here in Northumbria?

  • james

    sorry, but this by election is a completely arranged set up by the labour party just so ed miliband can give his aid a safe seat.

    i applied for the seat after receiving an email from labour and i have been completely rejected with out even being told because the party is conducting interviews tomorrow (29th) and is 7:45.

    my CV includes being born in moss side and i grew up there, i was state educated and received straight As through primary school, high school and college, i was lucky enough to be accepted to the London school of economics on a scholarship where i studied economics and mathematics and graduated with a 1st (95%), i also gained my masters in economics and a PhD in economics, I then went to work for a Barclay’s bank before starting at the bank of england in 2002 and i quit in 2008 to move back to Manchester  because my children (1 boy and 2 girls) where starting to act like little snobs so i brought them to see how real people live. i have been a member of the party since i was 18( some 20 years ago) how do i not even get considered for this seat

    this is a complete sham, i am probably the most qualified candidate to contest the seat


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