By Erdington Local election news team
On Saturday, 29 January, Councillor Paulette Hamilton (Lab, Holyhead) launched her campaign to be the next Erdington MP – meeting local Labour Party members during a special address at Highcroft Community Centre in Stockland Green.
Having been nominated to stand in the upcoming Erdington by-election via an online vote earlier in the week, winning a significant majority over her Labour Party opponent Ashley Bertie, Cllr Hamilton used her first public address as an MP hopeful to tell her supporters:
“Can I thank you all for your support. I cannot believe it, the overwhelming support I have had from people throughout the constituency.
“We have got a lot of work to do. We are going to run a clean campaign; we are going to fight at the doorsteps to take the Labour message to the people.”
In an email sent out to Labour Party members earlier in the week, Cllr Hamilton previously stated: ‘This is an election none of us wanted to be fighting but it is one we have to win. We owe it to the memory of our dear friend Jack Dromey MP and we owe it to the people of Erdington.’
At the time of writing, only Dave Nellist has also thrown his hat in the ring – with the erstwhile Labour MP for Coventry South East and Coventry City councillor declaring his intention to stand for the Erdington seat on behalf of the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).
Joined by Shabana Mahmood MP (Lab, Ladywood), who is also the National Campaign Coordinator in Kier Starmer’s Shadow Cabinet, Cllr Hamilton launched her by-election campaign with around a hundred local Labour Party members – all giving up their Saturday to help her canvass across the constituency.
The atmosphere was a positive one; Cllr Hamilton and her team were met with raucous applause upon entering and beginning their speeches – with local Labour Party members and staff filled with optimism and excitement ahead of the campaign.
The event began with some opening words from Shabana Mahmood MP, who paid tribute to the late Jack Dromey: “I could not be more proud that we have got a local woman who is going to stand up and fight for the people of Erdington, and do Jack proud.”
The Ladywood MP was keen to kick the Labour campaign off with a “flying start”, building up excitement for the beginning of Paulette Hamilton campaign – which, if successful, would make her the first black Member of Parliament.
Addressing the crowd, Cllr Hamilton also began with an immediate tribute to Jack Dromey: “Can I start by saying; I absolutely adored Jack. I am really saddened that Jack has passed away.
“He was a stood for social justice and he championed the people in Erdington and the constituency. He fought for people who needed jobs and saving jobs.”
Cllr Hamilton then went into detail on her background – having lived in Erdington for 35 years and working as a nurse – as well as her work fighting for local residents to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
One Labour Party member told Erdington Local: “I’m certainly enthusiastic. Paulette has definitely made a good impression.”
Judith Park, a local resident, went on to say: “I haven’t normally been involved in the party meetings etc. but I thought she really inspired us on the Zoom meeting.”
There were previous concerns over the organisation of the online meetings and voting process, with the Wednesday night candidacy selection starting hours later than scheduled – with a Labour source citing “technical difficulties” and problems verifying the identity of those attending to vote.
Andy Cook, who was present at the selection meeting, told: “We were all very impressed. Paulette was impressive in the way she came across and responded well to the questions put to her. I am more than confident we have made the right choice.”
“I think we can go into this by-election fairly confident and I hope we can do Jack proud and do right by his legacy by holding the seat strong for him and for Labour.
“Jack was an immense figure of British politics and of the Labour movement across the whole country, so naturally he leaves behind a record that few can match. However, we have an amazing candidate who is going to get stuck right in.
“I think if Jack could have chosen for himself the successor for his seat, he would have chosen Paulette, and I believe that is the highest honour I can pay her.”
For more on Paulette Hamilton visit www.birmingham.gov.uk/councillors/49/paulette_hamilton