Multiple shadow cabinet and local sources in Manchester have told me that Sir Gerald Kaufman is seriously ill and people in the local party think he could stand down from Parliament. He hasn’t voted in Parliament since 11th May 2016 and multiple local constituency Councillors have independently confirmed that Sir Gerald has had recent medical issues that we are choosing not to publish. Sir Gerald didn't reply to a request for a comment.
There is a raging battle between Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, Councillor Julie Reid and Councillor Luthfur Rahman to replace Sir Gerald, as they believe there could be a by-election very soon. Afzal Khan MEP is also positioning himself in the event of a vacancy but is trying to keep himself out of local arguments. Multiple very senior sources tell me that these local figures are running open campaigns. Rahman and Akbar are said to have a “poisonous” relationship.
Councillor Akbar refused to deny in 2 emails to me that he was running a campaign for the Gorton seat but said “I feel it is morally wrong and disrespectful to Sir Gerald, his family and close friends to discuss about his demise and subsequent by-election for his seat”. Afzal Khan declined to comment. Both Councillor Reid and Councillor Rahman didn’t reply to my request for comment.
A local Labour MP told me, “Gerald is very ill and the selection to replace him will turn into a bloodbath”.
Another source told me, “He’s not been seen in 6 months, there's a strong possibility he will stand down”.
A senior local figure told me, “It’s a disgrace and shows a complete lack of respect. Gerald is still alive - there isn't a vacancy. People have been talking about Gerald’s demise for 10 years and it hasn’t happened. Having said that I haven’t spoken to or seen him in 6 months”.
In the course of writing this article a number of names not mentioned in this article have been floated for the seat. The reason they have not been mentioned is because I cannot confirm they are currently running campaigns and the focus of this story is that individuals are running campaigns whilst there isn’t a vacancy. I personally hope Gerald makes a full recovery and wish the best to his friends and family.
Manchester Gorton Labour Party has been shrouded in controversy for over a decade. There have been multiple accusations of violence, corruption and threatening behavior. The CLP has been suspended on many occasions and for long periods. Many attempts have been made in the past to get Sir Gerald to stand down. There has been fierce competition over the years to be seen as the front-runner to replace Sir Gerald.
I used to be involved in Manchester politics and I know first hand that since the mid 2000s there have been accusations that certain people were buying memberships for people who either didn’t exist or would do as they were told in a selection contest. Many memberships would be registered at the same household. Allegations of violence were recently reported by the Manchester Evening News.
The situation, I’m told, has picked up huge pace as frantic speculation circulates about Sir Gerald’s health. A local source tells me that Rabnawaz Akbar has been attempting to shore up support among local councillors. An anonymous Twitter account, suspected to be run by local party members, wrote this Tweet accusing Rahman and another local councillor of buying memberships.
I understand that Afzal has been hosting meetings in the constituency as part of a regional tour, sending communications to members & courting key players. I’m told Rabnawaz gatecrashed one of Afzal’s events in Whalley Range last week. Union figures tell me that Afzal would likely pick up significant union support and the institutional support that would make him the front-runner. He is trying to keep above the fray as Rabnawaz and Luthfur have an open warfare with each other. I’m told that Lutfur refers to Rabnawaz as a “f***ing snake” and there is intense animosity between the two.
Locals on the ground say that it is very difficult to predict and anything could happen. If a by-election does occur the selection is likely to be rancorous and could potentially present a real challenge for Jeremy Corbyn to prevent tensions spilling over.
I spent a lot of time thinking about running this article. It is in no way meant to be disrespectful to Gerald and I very much hope he recovers and wish the best to his family. However there are 2 reasons this is in the public interest.
1. Individuals are running open campaigns to replace Gerald and this should be publicly known.
2. Gerald hasn’t voted in Parliament since May and there are genuine questions around this that his constituents deserve to know about.
Additionally this article is meticulously sourced and I spoke to over 30 people in the course of researching it. Much information has been discarded because it could not be supported by multiple sources.
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