|Photo of Victory Street, Rusholme, by Bill Boaden|
Yesterday the Liberal Democrats chose an impressive candidate for the Manchester Gorton by-election: Jackie Pearcey.
At the end of that post I described the Labour constituency party in Gorton as "faction-ridden". An article by Jennifer Williams in the Manchester Evening News fills in some of the details.
Ambitious Labour activists had been confidently expecting Sir Gerald Kaufman to retire for at least two general elections and so were circling the seat like wild turkeys around a dead cat.
Jennifer Williams explains what this has lead to:
Last year a mammoth falling-out between different factions and personalities reached its zenith at a Levenshulme branch meeting. As with all things to do with Gorton CLP it can be difficult to get to the actual facts – but suffice to say the police were called in amid claims of vote-rigging, abuse and intimidation.
A letter from regional office to the CLP at the time said allegations ‘related to the conduct of Labour party members both during and outside of Labour party meetings’, as well as to ‘the conduct of members of the CLP executive committee in administering internal ballots’.
It had received complaints from members fearing for their safety, it added.
The party was then suspended and although that suspension was lifted in November, Gorton CLP remains under a range of heavy restrictions.
To all intents and purposes it is in special measures, with regional office overseeing selections and the convening of key meetings – and all new party members required to show two forms of ID.
As one rank-and-file member put it, the local party is ‘allowed to go out leafleting’ but not a lot else.
Quite how the selection process will work, therefore, remains rather unclear, although it is understood local members will be allowed to vote on the eventual shortlist. But one outcome, believe many in Manchester, is inevitable.
“It will end up being like a micro-replica of the turmoil within the Labour party as a whole,” said one councillor.At the last general election Labour polled two-thirds of the vote in Gorton and had a majority of 24,079 over the second-placed Green candidate.
Yet today Rebecca Long-Bailey, the Corbynites' anointed as the next Labour leader, announced that it was not a safe seat,
Maybe she was on to something?
Historically, it is the Liberal Democrats who have been the closest challengers in Gorton.
If you want to help the by-election campaign, you can donate the national Liberal Democrats site.