Pattern of regional roles as fall-back needs to end
Mike O’Brien is a former Labour MP and front-bencher under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown who consistently voted for the Iraq war, lost his North Warwickshire seat in 2010 and tried, unsuccessfully, to regain it in 2015.
He now hopes to become Labour’s candidate for the position of West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) – to replace another former Blair minister, departing PCC David Jamieson.
O’Brien has begun mailing local Labour members to ask for their support for his candidacy and his letter makes a point of his history as a front-bench MP.
The West Midlands has a history of selecting ex-MPs for regional positions. Former Birmingham Erdington MP and close friend of Tom Watson Sion Simon stood for Labour in the last contest to be the region’s ‘metro mayor’ – in spite of having stood down as an MP after an expenses controversy. Simon lost, shockingly, to Tory Andy Street. Simon’s campaign was marked by data breaches involving Gerard Coyne’s attempt to dislodge Corbyn supporter Len McCluskey as Unite general secretary.
O’Brien is not the only former Blair minister hoping to become a regional candidate. ‘Moderate’ MP Liam Byrne has announced that he wants to be selected as Labour’s candidate for the next mayoral election.
The West Midlands can no longer be a safety net for the Labour right. It’s time to choose a grassroots candidate there – and beyond.
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