This article is one of a series as part of WriteYou's coverage of Manchester Gorton, you can see the coverage here. Help WriteYou grow by supporting our powerful platform for independent fearless non partisan journalism here.
The situation in Gorton is changing rapidly but Afzal Khan remains the clear favourite to win. Applications are now open and are closing on Monday 13th March. Shortlisting will be on Monday 20th March with the final selection on Wednesday 22nd March. The shortlisting panel is Keith Vaz, Glenis Willmott, Claudia Webbe, Andi Fox and Shabana Mahmood.
My sources on Labour’s NEC say that it’s likely that there will be a shortlist of 4. This means it has to be gendered balanced.
Based on what I’ve been told there will be 1 white male place, 1 BAME male place, 1 white female place and 1 BAME female place.
Afzal Khan is almost certain to be on the shortlist. Rabnawaz Akbar and Luthfur Rahman have yet to say publicly whether they are running or not and the Khan juggernaut is already picking up momentum. He will definitely pick up the CWU nomination and will almost certainly pick up the GMB nomination. Unite are having a hustings for their candidate at their Salford office on Thursday. Unite will decide after this and as it stands they are likely to go for Sam Wheeler. You can see Khan’s announcement statement here.
Either Sam Wheeler or Councillor Mike Amesbury will get a place on the shortlist. Tony Lloyd is rumoured to be running, but I think it’s doubtful he will actually run in the end. Sam Wheeler is heavily supported by Momentum but with the unions split between candidates, it’ll be interesting to see whether Wheeler can force himself onto the shortlist. What Andi Fox, the TSSA NEC member, does will be critical giving the small TSSA a huge say in the vote. Amesbury has close links with Angela Rayner but Wheeler’s strong support from Momentum puts him in an advantageous position. Amesbury also has a strong claim to be on the shortlist as a local candidate.
Rebecca Long-Bailey being replaced by Keith Vaz on the shortlisting panel is also a blow for Wheeler. Amesbury is likely to pick up the UNISON nomination. You can see Amesbury’s announcement statement here.
Councillor Julie Reid is another likelihood for the shortlist. She’s built up some momentum locally among people keen for a local candidate. There is very likely to be a white woman on the shortlist so it seems unlikely that they will look past Reid. You can see her announcement statement exclusively on WriteYou here.
That leaves the final place. This will likely go to Councillor Yasmin Dar who has confirmed she is running or Councillor Amina Lone. Lone has a strong national profile but has yet to confirm whether she is running.
In the process of writing this article I’ve spoken to Jeremy Corbyn’s office, MPs across the party, trade union officials, Labour Party staff and local sources in Manchester. It seems very unlikely, unless there is a dramatic change, that the candidate will be someone other than one of the people named above. The composition of the shortlist could of course change, depending on deals done, so this is a best guess as it stands.
In terms of who will win, it seems clear that Khan remains the frontrunner. It’s Gorton, so who knows what deals will be made locally after the shortlist has been announced. Rabnawaz Akbar and Luthfur Rahman who command large block votes are likely to have a big say in this.
There is also a big push for the candidate to be a woman and this could have an impact on the situation.
The other wildcard is the turnout. The membership of the CLP has surged to 2,000. If one of the candidates is able to mobilise new members this has the potential to disrupt the traditional power structures in the CLP.
Whatever happens, it is entirely unpredictable but at this point Khan is the frontrunner.
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