By Erdington Elections news team
Labour look set to follow a “go local” strategy in the upcoming Erdington by-election according to a party source, the same approach which helped them win the Batley and Spen by-election last July.
Pollsters from the Labour’s London headquarters have been in Erdington asking voters who they would prefer to stand in the by-election, with many reportedly rooting for a local candidate – which rules out several big names who lost their seats in the 2019 Tory landslide.
But as candidates are still being considered, Holyhead Councillor Paulette Hamilton has already announced her place on the Labour Party shortlist. A post made on Cllr Hamilton’s social media on Sunday, January 24 stated:
“I have put myself forward to become the next @UKLabour MP for my home constituency of Birmingham Erdington. @JackDromeyMP will be a tough act to follow – I’m honoured that my party have shortlisted me and hope the party members endorse me.”
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.”
However, another announcement came only an hour later with Ashley Bertie also declaring his candidacy saying:
“I’m honoured to have been shortlisted to become the next @UKLabour MP for the constituency I grew up and live in – Birmingham, Erdington. @JackDromeyMP will always have a special place in my heart and those of Erdingtonian’s and I hope that party members will support me.”
Currently the Chief Executive Officer for the Independent Custody Visiting Association, Mr Bertie served as the West Midlands Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner for over three years.
On Sunday 24 January, Labour Party Chair Anneliese Dodds MP was canvassing across Erdington, with Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Wes Streeting MP hitting the streets the following Monday.
The Erdington by-election campaign, which could be seen as a referendum on Boris Johnson’s record as Prime Minister, will be six weeks long. It is expected the Labour Party chief whip will submit a motion for a by-election after Monday, 31 January, the day of Jack Dromey’s funeral, resulting in polling day landing on Thursday, 3 March or 10 March.
With Labour more than ten points ahead in the polls and fighting a safe seat, Sir Keir Starmer will be under pressure to deliver a big victory.
However, the Conservative Party have several councillors in the Erdington constituency – including the leader of the Birmingham Conservatives Cllr Robert Alden, who is the elected representative for the Erdington Ward alongside Cllr Gareth Moore.
The Conservative campaign will further benefit from dissatisfaction from local residents about the Labour council administration over HMOs, green spaces, and crime – issues Cllr Alden has repeated raised in Cabinet meetings.
In the coming weeks, the political eyes of the UK will leave Westminster for Erdington, as the fiercely fought by-election is expected to attract more candidates than a normal General Election. Last month’s North Shropshire’s by-election had 14 candidates including one from the Monster Raving Loony Party.
Labour still has time to announce more candidates for the Erdington seat, with the final candidate being voted on by local party members later this week.
An email to Labour Party members from West Midlands regional director Charlie Walker said: “Following the sudden death of friend and colleague, Jack Dromey MP, there will be a Parliamentary by-election for the seat of Birmingham Erdington.
“Please be aware if you are successfully included on the longlist you will be required to attend a shortlisting interview via Zoom on Saturday, January 23 or Sunday 24.
“Successfully shortlisted candidates will be invited to a selection hustings meeting on Wednesday, January 26 where all members of the Constituency Labour Party will vote as to who will be the candidate.”