Exclusive: The runners and riders in contest to be Labour’s Copeland candidate



The Copeland by-election is the first of 2017 and, with Labour defending a majority of 2,564, looks like being an incredibly tight contest.

As Jon Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, visits the seat today, LabourList picks out some of the activists who could be tempted to throw their hat into the ring for selection as Labour’s candidate.

Local members are expected to pick someone who can communicate Labour’s message on Brexit fluently after 62 per cent of people in the Copeland local authority area voted to leave the EU.

Jamie Reed, the pro-Remain MP who was elected in 2005, announced his resignation in a surprise move just before Christmas.

Usman Ahmed 

The Shropshire councillor, 24, is believed to be the first person to publicly declare an interest in standing. “I know the area, the people and the issues,” he told the News & Star. “I know the NHS is a real issue in Copeland and as a passionate believer and supporter of the NHS I will campaign hard to protect all services.”

Thomas Docherty

The former Dunfermline and West Fife MP, who lost his seat in 2015 after one term, has been mentioned locally and is seen as being on the centre-left of the party. He was a candidate in the Holyrood elections last year, where he was third on Labour’s mid-Scotland and Fife regional list, but was not elected. He later described Scottish Labour’s manifesto as “self-immolation for dummies”, according to Holyrood magazine.

Rachel Holliday

The founder of Calderwood House hostel was named Cumbria Woman of the Year in 2015 for her work in helping to provide accommodation for people who have experienced homelessness. The award judges described her as a “strong and inspirational young woman”. She is thought to be popular among supporters of Jeremy Corbyn.

Andrew Lawson

A Workington councillor who served a term as mayor of the town, at which point he was the youngest person in England to hold such an office. He has also served as interim secretary of Workington Labour Party in the run up to the general election and played a role in the selection of a parliamentary candidate.

Lee Sherriff 

The respected councillor in Carlisle – 40 miles up the road – was Labour’s candidate in England’s most northerly town in 2015 and could be seen as a battle-ready PPC if she wanted to make the move West this spring. She lost in the general election to John Stevenson, the sitting Tory MP, by 2,774 votes.

If you have a tip for who could seek Labour’s nomination in Copeland then please write to [email protected]

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