Labour makes last-minute dash to hold off Respect and BNP in Rotherham
Labour MPs and an army of volunteers have been dispatched to Rotherham to try to keep hold of the seat in the forthcoming byelection. The seat was vacated by Denis MacShane after his resignation over his expenses fraud. There are fears that George Galloway's Respect party could profit from disarray in the Labour camp following mass walkouts from members furious at being denied a "local" candidate. . . after around 80 members, including several dozen councillors, stormed out in protest on Tuesday night. They were unhappy at the two-woman shortlist of "out-of-towners" imposed by the party's national executive committee.
John Healey, MP for neighbouring Wentworth, who was at Tuesday's shambolic selection meeting, admitted: "It was a very, very difficult meeting. The party members felt very strongly, had a very strong point to make, and made it very effectively. But the fact was, we had to finish the evening with a Labour candidate. We are not going to leave the field in Rotherham open with the EDL and their political wing [the EDL are rumoured to be fielding an independent candidate], the BNP, Ukip and Respect."
Local Labour members wanted a chance to vote for their preferred local candidate on 29 November, Rotherham town councillor Mahroof Hussain, who was rejected by the NEC. The official line is that Hussain was not chosen because the party needed a "clean break" in a constituency damaged by both MacShane's dodgy accounting and the child sex grooming scandal, where authorities, including departments of the Labour council, were accused of turning a blind eye to crimes committed mostly by British-Pakistani Muslims.
A Labour insider in London said Hussain was deemed too much of a risk in a constituency being targeted by the BNP on the grooming issue. The BNP polled 10.4% of the vote in the 2010 general election. MacShane won 44.6%, with a majority of over 10,000.
The election is in two weeks. The Respect party candidate is Yvonne Ridley. Watch this space.
Posted on 11/15/2012 4:33 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax