By Erdington Local election news team
Cllr. Paulette Hamilton (Lab, Holyhead) has been confirmed as Labour’s official candidate for the upcoming Erdington constituency by-election.
Selected by local Labour Party members during an online vote late on Wednesday, 26 January, Cllr. Hamilton won a landslide victory over her only rival Ashley Bertie – receiving nearly three times more votes than the one time West Midlands Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner.
Currently the Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, Cllr. Hamilton was the first candidate to publicly declare their intention to stand for the Erdington seat – a place “where me and my family have lived for 35 years.”
During the session she spoke about the importance of mental health and social care, whilst also heralding the work of the once Prime Minister Gordon Brown, according to a Labour Party source.
Soon after the results late on Wednesday evening, the West Midlands Labour Party declared:
“Congratulations to Paulette Hamilton who has been selected as Labour’s candidate for the Birmingham Erdington by-election.”
“Thank you to the @ErdingtonLabour members for selecting me – I promise to work hard every day of this campaign and with your support look forward to representing Erdington in Parliament. I will do my best to continue the legacy of @JackDromeyMP’s outstanding work.”
In a subsequent email to Labour Party members, Paulette Hamilton established her strong ties to Erdington – where she moved to from Handsworth with her husband 35 years ago, and where they raised their five children.
“35 years is also how long I’ve been qualified as a registered nurse,” she went on to say, before reiterating her intentions to “keep fighting for more funding for mental health services while working with the police to combat anti-social behaviour and provide accessible support to those battling alcohol and drug dependency – which are blighting our area.
“As your MP I will demand the better deal that we deserve.”
Birmingham Labour’s BAME Officer, Naziah Rasheed, was also quick to celebrate the nomination – which could see Paulette Hamilton enter the house as Birmingham’s first black MP.
Following the result, Naziah told Erdington Local: “I believe Paulette Hamilton is the best choice for Erdington, she will serve this community well and I am looking forward to working with her – to ensure she gets elected and be the pride of Erdington.”
However, the evening was not all a cause for celebration as the online meeting ran into problems when officials tried to sign in dozens of members on Zoom whilst trying to prove their IDs.
The process took hours and there were complaints several members were unable log into the meeting – which was due to start at 6:30pm but due to the verification problems the winner was not announced until 9.55pm.
There were also concerns raised that by conducting the vote online it isolated local Labour Party members who did not have the right technology or digital know how.
One veteran Erdington Labour member, who did not want to be named, complained: “It was an organisational shambles.
“It was bad enough only those with computer access or smart phones could take part.
“What about a pensioner who is not online? And because it took so long online rows began breaking out.
“People understandably were fed up because of how it has been organised, families with young children disenfranchised and there were complaints that many BAME members have been excluded at verification.”
The Labour member added: “Questions also had to be submitted in advance but not all members knew.”
The Labour Party is yet to set an official date for the Erdington constituency by-election, although it is suspected polling day will land in early to mid March.
Candidates from across the political spectrum are expected to contest the Erdington seat, although at the time of writing no official announcements have been made by other parties or independents.
However, fierce campaigning for the 5 May local elections has already begun by the local Conservative Party – who currently have several councillors in the constituency, including the leader of the Birmingham Conservatives and Erdington Ward Councillor Robert Alden.
Cllr Alden lives in Erdington and is a prominent figure across the constituency, which could make him a viable candidate if the “go local” messaging from Labour continues to drive their campaign.