Telford Live on Sunday – A week in local politics

Telford Live on Sunday – A week in local politics

As the constituents of Telford & The Wrekin awaited the announcement of the challengers to Lucy Allan and Mark Prichard, Telford Live learned that all is not well with Labour’s selection process.

After a string of high profile Labour Cllrs quickly declared themselves out of the running, the deadline passed with only ex-council leader Kuldip Sahota publicly declaring himself as applying for the nomination, but Telford Live learned at least two more local Labour members made the application.

The prospective candidate should have been announced a week last Tuesday, then, according to Cllr Kevin Guy, a week last Friday, and we had to wait until Tuesday to find out who would challenge for Labour at the polls on June 8th. Step forward Cllr Kuldip Sahota.

Given the delays in getting the candidate selected, the launch party went off a bit prematurely. A start billed at 6pm, I arrived on time but missed the intro from ex-Telford MP David Wright, who looked like he in enjoying life away from Westminster.

Before the candidate was announced, a small number of Telford Labour Party members contacted me expressing some disappointment with the clarity and transparency of the process: “Having been told by the Chair of the party, Cllr Kevin Guy at a party meeting to discuss the selection of a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate to challenge Lucy Allan, that the name put forward would likely be the one chosen. It transpired after the meeting that the decision would be made centrally, without local input. Anyone could apply, even people outside the area, and we might not get a say.”

“At that meeting, both Cllr Kuldip Sahota and Cllr Lee Carter put their names forward, with Cllr Carter pulling out less that 24hrs later because he felt he couldn’t be honest with himself.”

Cllr Lee Carter has previously stated that he could consider supporting Corbyn as betrayal to the Labour Party. He is not alone in his views. Ex Labour Cllr Mike Ion, a former parliamentary candidate for The Wrekin, claimed in August of last year that he wrote to Jeremy Corbyn asking him to step aside.

What is it about the Local Labour chiefs who appear unwilling to support the leader of their party, and the leader of the party, ignoring them?

With no meet and greet of Jeremy Corbyn when he visited Telford on Saturday, there seems to be an apparent unwillingness by senior local Labour figures to show support for their leader. He spent the day here, giving the Shropshire Star a one-hour interview after addressing the National Association of Head Teachers Conference at the International Centre.

“It’s clear to me that that the executive are not getting behind Corbyn. There seems to be some disconnect between the people in charge of the party and the Corbyn-supporting grassroots members who appear to have been excluded from the decision making.”

“With Corbyn elected twice by the membership, surely it’s obvious – do your damndest to get your own side elected and sort out your grievances later.”

Further evidence of anti-Corbyn supporter bias was bubbling under even before the snap election was called; “The councillor selection process for the next council elections in 2020 were already underway and the Constituency Labour Party were making up rules to disadvantage newer members who had joined when Corbyn was elected leader. This is not in the rule book”, said a Labour Party insider.

At the launch I asked Kuldip if he could see Corbyn as Prime Minister. He answered that ‘the election should be fought on policies rather than personalities’.

One wonders if the Local Labour Party are expecting a defeat, another leadership election, and to get their ducks in a row for post-brexit 2022.

I contacted Telford Labour Party for a comment but they chose not to.


It’s not only Labour who have had a little trouble up top.

It transpires that having won an election in 2015 by the skin of your teeth, Conservative MP for Telford Lucy Allan was not guaranteed that the candidacy was hers to defend.

Mark Wallace, executive editor of Conservative Home, a website ‘independent of the Conservative Party but supportive of it’ (and owned by Michael Ashcroft) tweeted that Lucy Allan ‘survives deselection attempt – assoc. executive vote to deselect, but she narrowly wins a vote of the full membership’.

Local Tories play their cards very close to their chest but put on a very brave face, dust themselves off and get behind their PPC. At least for now.


The Wrekin sees an Independant Challenge

The Wrekin is a hill but also a mountain to climb for any challengers to Mark Pritchard.

Even having been stung doing ‘interesting’ business deals in Albania, it seems the people of The Wrekin hold him in high regard.

Mark Pritchard famously went to the top in a tank to save the PRH and having increased his majority in every year since, some might say it’s going to take an mechanised army to dislodge him.

Dylan Harrison has a brigade of Labour troops behind him trying to do exactly that, but my interest piqued when I heard that local entrepreneur Fay Easton was set to launch a one-woman campaign to take the seat away from Mark Pritchard.

Its rare for indies to break the tape and get elected, but all credit to Fay for putting her (and others – the campaign is being crowdfunded) money where her mouth is and having a go. I’ll take great interest in Fay’s journey over the next few weeks.


Anymore for Anymore?

With UKIP declaring that they won’t contest Telford because its a marginal seat with a pro-leave MP, where will their 7,330 votes go?

Speaking with a Labour campaigner, not all to the Tories. UKIP claimed during the 2015 election that both Labour and Tory supporters chose to support them in order to get a referendum, so the boost that Lucy Allan could be anticipating may not be so huge.

I’m hearing that UKIP veteran candidate Denis Allen, could well be standing in The Wrekin, but this is yet to be confirmed.

The Greens and Lib Dems are rumoured to be fielding candidates in both constituencies and I fully expect these to be announced formally in the next 2 or 4 days.

13 thoughts on “Telford Live on Sunday – A week in local politics

  • May 7, 2017 at 7:30 am

    That’s a decent piece of unbiased journalism. Pity we don’t get that from mainstream news outlets!

  • May 7, 2017 at 9:43 am

    The trouble with discounting personality over policies is that when a crisis arises you want to bet you have a stable personality in charge.

    • May 7, 2017 at 9:56 am

      Very well put Jon. A good local candidate is no use if their views are wiped out by ineffective leadership.

  • May 7, 2017 at 10:04 am

    Its good to see an independent candidate standing in the Wrekin Constituency as the existing MP is absent and has not shown any interest in local matters – no one has seen him in Wellington town centre since the last election! Sadly Labour has failed the market towns by spending all its resources on Southwater, so an independent candidate who has an interest in local issues is welcome in my view.

  • May 7, 2017 at 10:04 am

    Local candidates every time. They care more about their areas. Whichever party it is.

    • May 7, 2017 at 10:19 pm

      That really is one of the most stupid comments I’ve read on this election to date. To ascert that a local candidate would always be better than someone else belies a naive understanding of human nature.

  • May 7, 2017 at 10:06 am

    Great article Telford Live, that’s what we want to read a well balanced article that has the facts in it.
    Credit to Cllr Lee Carter for standing up for his beliefs you don’t see enough of that in politics.
    I wish the Indy well and look forward to how she gets her message across without the support of a political party.
    Local issues are important but need to be backed up by a credible and strong government .
    Keep it coming can’t wait for next weeks update.

  • May 7, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    What would be interesting to see in Telford is the Lib Dems and Greens not field candidates so as not to split the anti-Lucy Allan vote, and give Kuldip a clear run at her.

    Despite what people may think of the Labour leadership in Westminster, surely Kuldip Sahota is a better choice for MP than his Conservative rival. And I say this not as a Labour supporter, but as a long-time Liberal Democrat who’s only just got rid of the sandals and fair-isle tank tops.

  • May 7, 2017 at 9:43 pm

    Most of the local political content on social media seems about as effective of someone rolling up a newspaper, shouting loudly up their chimney and expecting to change everyones mind.

    Telford Live seems to be attempting to encourage the local candidates to demonstrate some ability to engage with people on a personal level, avoid tit for tat name calling and show some originality in their attempts to change people’s minds about how they might vote.

    I am concerned that we will end up with a very bland campaign which leaves people disillusioned further by our politicians and their lack of creativity in finding new ways to involve those not interested on political sloganising but who care deeply about Telford, it’s communities and it’s future. Keep up the good work Mr Live

  • May 8, 2017 at 1:05 am

    My analysis of the tos and fros in Telford’s election fun(?) so far..

    I am told Lucy Allan should be long gone having been ousted 15-1 in an original vote by the local constituency party. But local Tories were not allowed to appoint a replacement candidate from amongst their ranks. Instead Tory HQ insisted there would be another “vote off” between Allan and 2 other HQ “appointed” candidates. Fear of the unknown apparently resulted in that original 15-1 vote being re-run with a very different pro-Allan result. Whoever said the Conservatives were an undemocratic party!?.

    Tory hopes rest very much on converting some of the 7000 (or so) 2015 UKIP voters. I know of one ex-Labour voter who admitted voting for UKIP in 2015 (believe me they do exist!). During our conversation he rued the fact that there was nobody standing for UKIP in Telford and stated “I would even consider voting Tory if that Allan woman wasn’t standing”. I think it’s fair to say he won’t be voting for any candidate of any party this time around. This is obviously not what the local Tory constituency party would like to hear and they may come to rue their lack of resolve when it comes to Ms Allan?.

    On the other hand potential Labour candidates who didn’t stand this time (for varying reasons some genuine, some not so!) are already quite blatantly lining themselves up for a 2022 bid (presumably in the expectance that a 70 year old Kuldip would stand aside next time around). Don’t be surprised to see a power struggle over the next few years between Shaun Davies, Lee Carter and Gilly Reynolds as all have made clear their intentions for a future candidacy. What a battle of egos that could be!.

    To quote a “grass roots” Labour voter and Corbyn leadership supporter, “I am glad that they have decided upon Kuldip as he is the only candidate I would be happy voting for from those who were available”. So while Kuldip may be considered a moderate by the left of the party he is also one that they feel that they could still vote for.

    Kuldip Sahota, a moderate and scandal free (so far) candidate is probably also Lucy Allan’s worst nightmare as an opponent. Ms Allan would have welcomed a fight with Shaun Davies or Lee Carter (as I am aware that local Tories (and others) have long been attempting to dig dirt on the pair in anticipation of such a fight).

    As a result, I think it is fair to say that we can expect a fairly lack-lustre campaign from both the main parties. Lucy Allan mirroring Theresa May’s campaign by making as few contentious comments and meeting as few hillbillys as possible. Kuldip Sahota sticking with his moderate “Mr Nice Guy” image and avoiding as much confrontation with the Corbyn leadership as possible by sticking to local issues while offering most potential Labour voters an acceptable “third way” candidate.

    Obviously, we’re still waiting on some other parties to declare and an independent option would always be welcome!. But lets be honest what could have been quite fun is going to be a fairly boring if close-run slugfest between Allan & Sahota.

    Someone wake me up when its all over..

  • May 8, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    As the branch chair of Telford South let me make it clear i support Jeremy 100 per cent
    he ticks all the boxes for me personally my branch also supported him both old and new members , . I will always support my elected leader just as all the party officers do .
    As for supposed lack of democracy in selection we could not choose earlier as our area is down for substantial change in the boundaries .
    The natural choice for us would have been David who was a brilliant Mp but he decided it was time to put his family first sad for us sad for Telford but he deserves a rest and we wish him all the best
    The process normally takes months to select a MP requiring many branch and executive meetings During Purdah (the time prior to election} any meeting would be deemed as expense and the time did not allow it all members were invited to declare an interest and we were asked if the constituency had a nomination but fairness to all our members disallowed that We have an excellent local candidate someone who works here raised his family here served many years on the coal face of politics on Telford And Wrekin council he is a hard dependable guy who as leader was always available to attend meetings yet always walks around his ward every Sunday .
    unlike Lucy who blocked nearly everyone hid from the public and the press Got caught lying over and over again who even her own party activists dislike with a vengeance
    Kuldip was not shipped like Lucy he does not have his main house down south his heart and soul is here in Telford


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