Hazel Blears vs Ian Stewart

I understand that the long awaited bout between Salford MP Hazel Blears and Eccles MP Ian Stewart for the Salford & Eccles constituency Labour nomination is now well underway. Postal ballots have been sent out, and the spoils will be awarded to the victor this coming Saturday, January 19th.

The conventional wisdom would tell everyone that as a cabinet minister, Hazel is going to walk the selection. Now, I’m sadly no expert on the internal processes of the Salford & Eccles Labour Party, but I suspect this selection contest will go right down to the wire. Being a senior party figure, Hazel should have all the advantages, but there are three things which may work against her, two of which are entirely her own fault.

  1. Hazel is the Secretary of State for Local Government, and has just presided over the worst grant settlement for Salford City Council in decades. She’s also responsible for the decision to claw back the LABGI local authority new business rate grant which will have a catastrophic effect on the Council’s finances this year – more on that soon.
  2. Her behaviour over the closure of the Maternity Unit at Hope Hospital – especially after the final announcement – was nothing short of appalling.
  3. I have heard on the grapevine that the two wards in Hazel’s current Salford constituency with the highest Labour Party membership are Kersal and Broughton – and both have been hived off into the new Blackley & Broughton constituency.

One thing is for sure though, Ian Stewart has a lot more riding on this selection vote than Hazel Blears does. If Stewart does not succeed, his Commons career looks to be over. If Blears fails, it will be mightily embarassing to have a senior cabinet minister chucked out by her own party members, but she will be found a poor unsuspecting constituency into which she can be parachuted.

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7 Responses to Hazel Blears vs Ian Stewart

  1. I wonder if I can persuade Lembit Öpik to publicly declare support for Hazel – I’m sure that would be the death-knell that her ambition is so dearly in need of.

  2. Chris Bryan says:

    Hazel Blears has been a really bad local MP, ignoring letters, emails etc. This is so different from my local councillor, also Labour, who has always been good.

  3. Chris Paul says:

    All seems a bit unlikely Iain. But we’ll see. I particularly don’t see what the loss of two wards with higher membership means to this contest. Are you expecting the Eccles wards to just vote en masse for Ian? I wouldn’t be relying on that if I were he.

    I’d expect 2:1 or better to Hazel, though I’m sure she’ll not be resting on any laurels. I have found Hazel pretty helpful on Salford central matters I’ve been involved with. Politically there is almost nothing between the two on Commons votes. i.e. always with the whip. Hazel has the excuse of being in a job.

  4. Iain says:

    Chris, I would expect, all other things being equal, the Eccles wards to favour Ian and the Salford wards to favour Hazel. Personally, I still expect Hazel to win, but she is far from the shoo-in that she might have been.

    Of course Ian Stewart’s heartland (Irlam and Cadishead) is not in the new seat either, nor did it help him win the Worsley & Eccles South nomination… but then from what I have heard that was hardly a fair fight!

  5. Pingback: D-Day For Hazel and Ian at Cllr Iain Lindley’s Diary

  6. Chris Paul says:

    This fair fight thing … do you mean that one of the candidates worked her socks off from the get go and one of them didn’t? And the one that did won? Seems fair. Stewart is a decent man and a worker but he didn’t put the work in on that one. And the threat of going to law rather than the Lords seemed a bit previous.

    2:1 to Hazel as predicted …

  7. Iain says:

    All credit to your prediction Chris!

    Despite the post above it I did nonetheless expect Hazel to win, albeit a lot more narrowly than was the case in the end. I imagine it was much tighter amongst the activists and the armchair voters provided much of Hazel’s victory margin.

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