Outgoing MP and newly-elected Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has called for a local candidate to be chosen amid rumours a senior Unite union officer will get the nod. Tony McDonough reports
Fears are growing that the Labour Party will select an outside candidate to fight the Liverpool Walton seat at the General Election after Walton-born local councillor James Noakes was told he would not be considered.
Current MP Steve Rotheram fired the starting gun for the seat on Sunday when he announced has was vacating the seat after being elected as the new Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor last week.
In his statement, Mr Rotheram urged Labour Party officials to select a local candidate to fight the seat, one of the party’s safest – amid fears an ‘outsider’ would be parachuted in.
Reports suggest a push to install Daniel Carden, a long-time aide of Unite union baron Len McCluskey and he is on the three-person shortlist along with Liverpool’s current elected Mayor Joe Anderson and North West MEP Theresa Griffin.
Mr Rotherham said on Sunday: “I have spoken with numerous people to try to ensure that they understand the depth of feeling that a local candidate should be chosen to succeed me.”
Mr Noakes, an experienced and popular councillor who is also Mayoral Lead for Energy & Smart City, announced his intention to run on his Facebook page early on Monday, saying: “Walton is where my family traces its roots and where my ancestors are buried.
“It is where I’d spend days out as a kid and where we would go shopping. It is where some of my family still work and where they go to church.”
However, by late afternoon he had been told by party officials that he would not be considered for the seat and he posted: “Here’s hoping Walton gets a candidate it deserves and who can work with those who actually put the hours in on the ground and not drag Walton into part of some national game.
“It does mean that I will carry on working for the good people of Clubmoor and the city in my role on the council.”
Senior Labour Party officials have to select a candidate by Thursday this week and a panel of Labour’s National Executive Committee will head to Liverpool to carry out interviews.
Also posting on her Facebook page, Ms Griffin, a former city councillor, wrote: “I am a proven local campaigner with a track record of hard work and delivering for my constituents at a national level.
“Walton needs a local person who knows and understands North Liverpool with national experience.”