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Byline: JANE HAYNES Politics & People Editor

HOUSING chief Sharon Thompson has put herself forward to become the city's first black MP - but her chances are looking remote.

Coun Thompson, Birmingham City Council's cabinet member for housing, is on the shortlist to take on sitting MP Roger Godsiff for the right to represent Labour in the safe seat of Hall Green.

But Labour HQ looks set to impose Mr Godsiff as the candidate by default because of the imminent General Election.

Subject to confirmation from the party's National Executive Committee (NEC), it's likely that Mr Godsiff will be announced as the candidate in the next few days.

Doing so would go against the wishes of party activists who did not endorse him at recent reselection meetings. They instead wanted the chance to consider other options.

But it is understand that Labour chiefs feel they have little option, given the proximity of the election on December 12, but to support the sitting MP.

Some activists, speaking anonymously, said several letters have been sent to the NEC about their concerns over Mr Godsiff representing them, expressing particular anger at his support for protesters campaigning outside Anderton Park primary in Sparkhill over LGBT equality messages.

Anger was further aroused by a letter sent by Mr Godsiff recently, targeted at some Labour members, which urged them to back his selection. The letter highlighted the ways he has supported Muslim constituents. In it Mr Godsiff said he was the only MP who has stood up for Muslim parents over the Anderton Park school issue.

He wrote: "I have spoken out in support of Muslim parents who were protesting about the way their young children were being encouraged to examine their sexuality without any parental involvement. No other politician has been prepared to publicly support the Muslim parents."

One Labour source said: "He continues to misrepresent the issue of LGBT equality messages, talking about sexualising, and parroting the views of protest leaders."

A judge is due to rule on whether to make permanent an exclusion zone around the primary school to prevent further protests at the gates, following a five day high court hearing.

The Birmingham Mail has attempted to contact Mr Godsiff.

Coun Thompson said: "I put myself forward to join Labour MPs in Parliament to fight for better school funding, youth services and work to fix the damage caused by austerity.

"As Cabinet Member for Housing, I know the challenges of dealing with a national crisis. We need national policy changes. I want to work with local people and fight for them nationally. Parliament needs people from every background and I was ready to serve as the Labour Party representative for Hall Green and wanted to become Birmingham's first black MP."

| Under Labour party rules, a selection ballot can be triggered by local members who do not wish to automatically endorse the sitting MP. At meetings held last month, three out of four branches in Hall Green voted for an open selection process. Mr Godsiff, as the sitting MP, would have been automatically included in the ballot.

This would usually be held following a selection meeting.

However, the announcement of a General Election came with the process only part completed. Last week the NEC decided to halt reselection processes, meaning Labour MPs who are not retiring or suspended will be automatically reselected, but they are each subject to NEC endorsement.

The seat is one of the party's safest in the country. At the 2017 General Election Mr Godsiff retained his seat with a majority of 33,944, up nearly 18 per cent on the previous election.


Councillor Sharon Thompson
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Author:JANE HAYNES Politics & People Editor
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Nov 5, 2019
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