ELECTION 2001: Empty Seats Go to White Male Candidates
Jo Dillon Political Correspondent, The Independent (London, England)
LABOUR LOYALISTS in working class St Helens are rebelling against plans to "parachute in" Tory defector Shaun Woodward.
Trade union bosses and party stalwarts are backing council leader Marie Rimmer in the selection battle. Many have warned they will not back Mr Woodward, despite behind-the-scenes string-pulling from the party leadership.
Failure to get Mr Woodward into the seat held by Gerry Bermingham, who retired suddenly last week, would be seen as a personal embarrassment for Tony Blair. But the north-west seat, where discontent is mounting, is really just a potent symbol of the wider backlash against moves to create a parliament in the Prime Minister's image by selecting a string of Blairite high-flyers in ultra-safe seats.
A string of former special advisers and party apparatchiks - all white, male and middle class - is now almost certain to make it to the House of Commons. But the selections, at a time when the numbers of black and Asian candidates is pitifully low and the number of women MPs is set to fall, have raised hackles.
Particular anger has been directed at attempts to "parachute in" David Miliband, the head of the Number 10 policy unit, to the South Shields seat held for 22 years by former Cabinet minister Dr David Clark and behind- the-scenes work on behalf of Mr Woodward. Other "young turks" selected to safe seats include Blair aide James Purnell, who will fight Stalybridge and Hyde, and Andy Burnham, special adviser to Chris Smith, in Leigh. John Cruddas, Downing Street's industrial relations adviser, will replace outgoing MP Judith Church in Dagenham and Blairite newspaper columnist Sion Simon was selected in Birmingham Erdington. …
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Publication information: Article title: ELECTION 2001: Empty Seats Go to White Male Candidates. Contributors: Jo Dillon Political Correspondent - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: May 13, 2001. Page number: 6. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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