Three On Labour’s Saddleworth Shortlist

Debbie Abrahams, pictured during the general election campaign when she stood for Labour in Colne Valley.

The shortlist to be Labour’s candidate in the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election has been revealed. There are just three names on it: Debbie Abrahams, Abdul Jabbar and Riaz Ahmad.

Each will be familiar to many people in our area. Mrs Abrahams was Labour’s candidate in the neighbouring Colne Valley constituency at the general election in May, but although the party had held the seat since 1997, she finished in third place. She used to be the Chair of Rochdale Primary Care Trust.

You can read and listen to her interview with Saddleworth News from the general election campaign here.

Cllr Jabbar is a senior figure within the opposition Labour group on Oldham Council. He represents Coldhurst, and currently shadows the Performance and Value for Money portfolio. He’s a former Mayor of the borough.

Cllr Abdul Jabbar

Mr Ahmad is a former Labour councillor and another one-time Mayor of Oldham, who currently serves as the Chair of NHS Oldham. During his time as Deputy Mayor in 2001, he played a high-profile role in attempting to calm tensions following the race riots. Just weeks after the violence, his Chadderton home was infamously attacked.

That line-up means there’s no place for the man who had been considered the front-runner for the nomination, Manchester councillor Afzal Khan. Labour sources said more than 80 people applied, with a longlist of about 20 interviewed by a party panel in London today.

Another strongly-fancied contender to miss out was Josh MacAlister, an Oldham teacher and former student politician. He wrote on Twitter this evening: “I have amazing friends an family! Thanks to everyone. Now let’s win Oldham East and wipe the smile off Elwyn’s face!”

Riaz Ahmad (picture: Labour Party)

That’s a reference to Elwyn Watkins, the Liberal Democrat who narrowly lost to the now-disgraced Phil Woolas in the general election, and who will be standing again in the by-election. The general election result was declared void by a specially-convened court, after judges agreed with Mr Watkins that Mr Woolas had knowingly lied about him in campaign leaflets.

Kashif Ali, who finished a close third in May, is also expected to return as the Conservative candidate. Euro MP Paul Nuttall is standing for UKIP, the Greens are putting up advice worker Peter Allen from Glossop, while BNP leader Nick Griffin is also thought likely to enter the contest.

The three contenders on the Labour shortlist will now face a private hustings meeting in front of local party members in Oldham on Sunday. The members will then vote on who they want to be their candidate.

The details of the shortlist were first revealed on Twitter by the BBC’s political editor in the North West, Arif Ansari. You can follow him here.

(UPDATE 11/12: Arif has now written a blogpost about the shortlist, including a link to this site, which you can read here)

For full coverage of the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election from Saddleworth News, click here.


  • Glittery Delpher says:

    Goodness gracious. That’s quick. And detailed.


    Although I’m dying to know why Councillor Battye didn’t get through to the final selection.

    Or indeed, the highly trailed vicar.

  • Ruth Greene says:

    I’m a CLP member of this constituency, why have I not received an invite to the hustings for the candidate selection ?

  • Geoff Frost says:

    Oh dear, same old public service, councillor type faces. Dreary, boring and predictable, committee clones. What a shame there wasn’t a young vibrant man or woman to instill some passion into this region. Don’t think I’ll bother voting, there’s little point really.

  • Mic Norbury says:

    The outcome of this little ‘look at me!’-fest will have no bearing on the national government, so the only thing left to vote for is someone who can do well at a local level for local people.

    Damn…. not a lot to choose from, is there?

  • Glittery Delpher says:

    Ruth – that’s quite shocking. You’d better get on the blower.

  • Grotton Red says:

    So we have Riaz who’s grasp of English would at best limit his ability to represent us effectively at Parliament never mind be understood clearly by 1/2 the constituency . In Abdul we have a councilor who has yet to hold any significant role in the Council and Debbie would get lost in one part of the constituency area and probably never stepped foot in the other!

    What a poor shortlist – and yes there were much better people that applied. Real shame.

    I can see a Conservative win here when the right candidate would have made it almost impossible for us to lose.

  • Cllr Ken Hulme says:

    mmmm I think you may have a point Grotton Red. The Lib Dems aren’t serious contenders – especially after this last week – but I share your views Kashif Ali could surprise us all.

    I thought the Labour shortlist would be stronger than it is – though both Riaz and Abdul are both decent guys I though we’d see some more experienced folk short-listed.

    But I think it would be a mistake to write off Debbie Abrahams or dismiss her as a light weight – I think she would do very well around Saddleworth.

  • Andy, Uppermill says:

    Whoever it will be has an uphill battle on their hands after the latest election leafleting to hit the letterboxes. Given the history behind this by-election I would have thought it would probably be best for Labour to keep their heads down a little and concentrate on what THEY would do for the community rather than go for the same old ‘slate the opposition’ tactic again.

  • Alan Shepherd says:

    I have worked with Debbie for the past year. She is hard-working, a good listener and an expert in all fields required of an Oldham East & Saddleworth MP. Everyone who cares should now ensure that she is elected in January.

  • Cllr Ken Hulme says:

    Good choice – refreshing to have a woman at last. Only draw back having a husband who was captain of Lancashire Cricket Team – but no candidate is perfect.

    Labour to romp home – Lib Dems a poor third – any takers for a small wage ?

  • Kevin Peters says:

    Ken there are two sites which are taking money on the byelection. One is Ladbrokes which offers 1-5 for Labour and 5-1 for the Lib Dems Conservatives are a distant third with 10-1. Smarkets is another and they are all prepared to take your cash.

  • Cllr Ken Hulme says:

    mmmm – I’d seriously think about having a flutter on Kashif. I wonder if they give odds on the Tories coming second ?

  • Michael says:

    @ Grotton Red:-

    Turns out not to be such a poor short list with a very close vote.

    If you do some serious research you will find the person selected is prepared to stand by her principles.
    Something that the “lobby fodder” MPs we have (the vast majority) do not seem to be able to do.

    @Cllr Ken Hulme:-

    You seem to have had a change of heart. Having been present and done my research I agree that she is in fact the best candidate and more than likely to win.

    Many people fail to realise that Females are the most unrepresented group in Parliament. They represent about 50% of the Population yet only 25% of MPs are Female. When it comes to Cabinet Positions it is even less.

  • Cllr Ken Hulme says:

    Michael – inconsistent moi ? Surely not ?

    It is true I have yet to have a settled view on the election but I have always rated Labours chances if they had a decent candidate – which they clearly have.

    And putting party politics on one side I’ve always had a lot of personal respect for Kashif Ali. I do think he’s head and shoulders above Elwyn as a candidate and that’s the feedback I’ve had from people who have attended the various hustings at the general election.

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