16th February 2019 could be the most the most significant date in Birkenhead’s political history in the last 40 years. Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party (CLP) have started the process of finding a replacement for Frank Field – the man who has been the town’s MP since 1979 – and this Saturday will see a special meeting take place where a Selection Committee will vote on who will be the parliamentary candidate at the next General Election.
Whilst we understand that Frank Field is a non-runner following his withdrawal of the Labour whip and can no longer be considered a candidate we just hope that someone has checked the rule book when it comes to running for selection- just in case there’s a Steward’s Enquiry when the result is announced. We say this as a journalist at New Statesman recently wrote this :
Therefore assuming that Field is out of the race who are jockeying for position to be riding high as the Labour candidate in one of the safest seats in the UK ?
Well first off in stall 1 and running in the ‘Maomentum ‘ colours is Tony ‘Tight Fit’ Norbury, local councillor for Prenton and scion of the so-called Wirral ‘hard left’. He has a favourite’s chance due to his ‘comrade’ John Maher and that latter’s control of the Birkenhead CLP and consequently the make up of the Selection Committee. Under these circumstances Norbury would appear to be the front runner…
However in stall 2 running Norbury close will be Mick Whitley in the Unite colours . We recently introduced you to him here and reported
Mr Whitley, formerly a long-standing convener at the Vauxhall car plant in nearby Ellesmere Port, was born in the area and is the former north-west regional secretary of the Unite union.
He has gained the support of Momentum, which holds a powerful presence in north-west England, while left-wing MPs such as John McDonnell, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Dan Carden have voiced their support.
The local branches of Unite, FBU, RMT, BFAWU and Aslef have also formally endorsed Mr Whitley’s candidacy.
Thus far ,despite living in Wirral (but not in Birkenhead?), Whitley has, up until now, not had a local political (or media) profile. However now that Unite’s Regional Political Officer,Alison Spencer Scragg, is running his campaign (and pulling the reins) Whitley has taken a sudden interest in turning up at food banks,demos and picket lines and making sure he’s seen to be doing so on his Twitter account which was only set up in November 2018…
Finally, in stall 3 we have the token filly in the race. Theresa ‘I’m not Tony or Mick’ Griffin is running in the colours of the EU flag/Unison/GMB. The clock is ticking on MEP Griffin as she looks like being out of a job by the end of next month unless Brexit is halted or delayed. Fresh from her defeat in the selection in Walton in 2017 we predict Theresa will again aim to be the token woman on the shortlist and hope that following her defeat she may make it third time lucky and actually win in Liverpool Riverside when their trigger ballot happens and current Labour incumbent Louise Ellman is ousted. Consequently Griffin’s half-hearted attempt to become the next MP for Birkenhead has thus far amounted to nothing more than taking a sudden interest in Birkenhead’s flyovers :
Thus a Labour insider sums up the current selection process situation for us as follows :
There will also be several local also rans who will no doubt throw their caps into the ring but in truth the members of Birkenhead CLP will have a choice between Tony Norbury or Mick Whitley, which will be akin to them being asked if they would like to be stabbed or burned to death. Ah thank God for a new and kinder politics……