The West Midlands is, in terms of its Labour MPs, a hotbed of anti-Corbyn sentiment with some of the least likeable elements of the PLP (Parliamentary Labour Party) on show.
Hot on the heels of the breaking news of Len McCluskey’s triumph over a grubby campaign by his main rival in the Unite leadership campaign, rumours – and at this stage that’s all they are – have reached the SKWAWKBOX that veteran MP John Spellar may be about to step down in an attempt to hand his Birmingham Warley seat to the defeated blairite challenger, Gerard Coyne.
Spellar – a man who infamously described the term ‘Momentum member’ as an insult on a BBC politics show – would certainly not want a pro-Corbyn candidate to replace him if he were thinking of standing down, as a number of right-wing Labour MPs such as Michael Dugher. Tom Blenkinsop and Alan Johnson have already announced they will.
If the rumours do turn out to have substance, it will put a man currently suspended by his union and under investigation by the Information Commissioner for his admitted use of Labour member data to which he had no legal right of access in the running to represent some of those same wronged members – and his election would install another MP, as his campaign has clearly demonstrated, with entrenched views diametrically opposed to the vast majority of Labour members.
Which, no doubt, would be the point. But given the amount of time the ICO and Unite investigations are likely to take, his parliamentary candidacy would be like handing a plate of custard pies to the Tories.
If you are a Labour member in Warley constituency, you may wish to start a clamour not to be represented by Gerard Coyne. Unfortunately, the local Labour machine has an established record for being willing to disenfranchise its members and may not allow them much of a say over the selection of a new PPC (prospective Parliamentary candidate).
McCluskey’s win has ensured that the Unite representatives on Labour’s NEC (National Executive Committee) are likely to remain unchanged – and may provide a platform for strengthening the pro-Corbyn position. Given the risk of an undemocratic procession if he’s shortlisted, it’s essential that the NEC does not allow Gerard Coyne anywhere near a parliamentary seat – and not only because of the Unite/ICO clouds hanging over him.
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