Labour figures in the North West are preparing for Andy Burnham’s expected victory as Mayor for Greater Manchester & resignation from Parliament and the resulting selection for the Leigh Parliamentary seat.
Senior regional figures have told me that Councillor Jo Platt is the “rock solid” choice for the seat and “certain to win”. It is clear from the people I’ve spoken to that she is the choice of the regional party, Andy Burnham and local Wigan political establishment. Any other contender would face an uphill struggle to defeat Councillor Platt.
Elected in 2012 for Astley Mosley ward, Councillor Platt is the Executive Member on Wigan Council for Children and Young People.
I understand Councillor Platt has made her intentions known and is actively working the constituency.
A national union official said, “Andy is supporting Jo and I think she will lock up support from most of the unions”.
My understanding is the only other credible candidate is James Frith, the 2015 candidate in Bury North. Frith has deep family links to the seat and is currently contacting local members to assess whether he has a viable chance of winning. Frith is on the National Policy Forum, a former Bury Councillor and has a background in social enterprise.
A senior regional official said, “Jo is working the seat and the only credible local candidate. I understand Jimmy Frith is also sniffing around”.
James Frith would certainly be considered an outside candidate and local political operatives were dismissive of Frith’s chances. However Frith is a tireless operator and if he does decide to run for the seat, will certainly give Platt a run for her money and certainly would be considered a potential dark horse. I've also heard that the CWU are considering supporting Frith and that would certainly create some unexpected momentum for his campaign. Frith is an active CWU member and was heavily backed by the union in 2015 and continues to work closely with them, especially in his role in NPF. This could potentially shift some of the other unions.
Councillor Platt didn’t reply to my request for a comment. James Frith declined to comment. A Spokesman for Andy Burnham didn't reply to text messages.
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