Battle for Gorton intensifies, as some push for female candidate

*Breaking* After this article was published we received reports that Afzal Khan's Manchester office has been bricked by masked youths. 

Today the battle for Manchester Gorton intensified following the sad passing of Sir Gerald Kaufman on Sunday.

My understanding from senior sources is that there are moves for the seat to be a woman, if as expected the by-election is on the same day as the local elections. A senior union source told me, “it would be ******* mad” for the candidate to be a white man, given that Andy Burnham is also a white man. Another local Labour source told, "This selection is an opportunity to ensure Manchester Parliamentarians are as diverse as the city they represent".

Sources close to Hulme Councillor Amina Lone, the 2015 candidate in Morcambe and Lonsdale, is almost certain to put her hat into the ring.  Lone is well respected nationally and likely to command significant support from heavyweight figures. Lone didn’t reply to a text for a comment. 

If only women get on the shortlist, then Lone stands a strong chance.

Following the news Momentum activist Sam Wheeler is running, many local players were in touch with to express shock. One said, “his name is popping up everywhere, but hardly anyone locally has heard of him”.

I understand that Wheeler has been secretly planning for up to 18 months to run in Manchester Gorton.

Fancied nationally, and with significant organisational heft, local political players were dismissive and said Parliament “doesn’t need another male white Oxbridge graduate”. A spokesman for Mr Wheeler didn't reply to phone calls. 

Things locally took a bitter turn when a Twitter account called “Alderman Heywood” started smearing me. The account was set up to smear local political figures in Manchester and has aggressively pursued Councillor Luthfur Rahman, among others. We understand that the person suspected to behind this account is a Manchester council employee with close links to one of the candidates.

A senior source tells me that this person has been working on one of the candidate's campaign and heavily promoting them within Unite the Union, where she is a Unite branch secretary. The person has made similar allegations about me to a number of local figures, the same that appeared on the Alderman Heywood account. 

A local source said, “she’s been making up all sorts”, another said “everyone knows who it is”.

The candidate involved didn't reply to my request for a comment, therefore at this stage I have decided to withhold their name. 

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