Right-wing Labour MP Ian Austin – who was labelled ‘thuggish’ and an ‘unpleasant bully’ for his behaviour in the House of Commons when Jeremy Corbyn criticised Tony Blair’s illegal Iraq war – was one of the few Labour MPs to reduce his majority during the 2017 general election’s ‘Corbyn surge’.
Rumours have been circulating in the Black Country that Austin may step down because he wants to become Labour’s candidate for West Midlands ‘metro mayor’ when the post – first elected last year – is next contested in 2020.
The SKWAWKBOX asked Austin whether he was indeed planning to stand down as an MP in order to go for the role. He responded quite quickly:
Of course I’m not standing down. I’m focussed on helping the people of Dudley. I was Labour’s last Minister for homelessness when we made huge strides tackling rough sleeping. Since then it’s gone through the roof – not just in major cities, but even in towns like Dudley where a homeless man died in a tent this winter. I’m working flat out to lift people out of poverty in Dudley and the Black Country, to open up opportunity for people in this community and to bring new industries and new jobs to the area.
This was a lot of information – but it didn’t include a denial that he was going for the mayor’s role. So that question was put again:
I note there’s no specific denial that you’re considering a tilt at the metro mayor position – does that mean you are planning/considering it?
Mr Austin has a commendable record of answering SKWAWKBOX enquiries promptly – often within minutes. However, well over twenty-four hours after the follow-up question was sent, no response has been received to this request for a specific clarification.
An intention to run for mayor would certainly fit with Austin’s recent behaviour with regard to Tory incumbent Andy Street. In March, criticised Street’s spending, while in May Austin used his own website to issue a ‘report card’ on Street’s performance:
If Austin is hoping to grab the Labour candidacy, he has an odd idea of how to go about it, having written in both PoliticsHome and the much-despised S*n, as well as appearing on the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme, to attack Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
But in Ian Austin’s blinkered universe, that might make perfect sense. Of course, many local Labour members would be very happy to replace him as their MP, but not at the cost of inflicting him and his right-wing views on the whole region as metro mayor.
Black Country members and union activists have told the SKWAWKBOX they can’t see Austin getting near the candidacy.
The SKWAWKBOX needs your support. This blog is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal. Thanks for your solidarity so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.
If you wish to reblog this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.