A former Downing Street adviser to Tony Blair on race issues is among a five-strong shortlist announced this afternoon by the Labour Party as it seeks to choose a candidate for the Croydon North by-election.
The shortlist is a model of PC rectitude, including three women and two minority ethnic candidates for the safe Labour seat where the former MP, Malcolm Wicks, who died last month, had built up a 16,000 majority.
Local Labour members will choose from the short-listed candidates on November 3, with the by-election expected to be held on November 29.
Louisa Woodley is the only Croydon councillor on the short-list, following a well-received, though ultimately unsuccessful, election campaign for the London Assembly earlier this year. Woodley is joined on the short-list by Val Shawcross who was leader of Croydon Council until 2000, when she was elected to the London Assembly, where she has held a series of senior positions since.
Steve Reed, the leader of Labour-run Lambeth Council, has made it on to the shortlist, as has Simon Burgess, who is said to be “Croydon-born”, and who was previously a candidate for Brighton Kemptown at the 2010 General Election.
Possibly the least well-known is Faz Hakim, the former Downing street aide, whose Twitter profile, somewhat disconcertingly for a prospective parliamentary candidate, describes herself as an “ex politico”, as well as a Manchester United fan, and says that her finest moment had been running a 10-kilometre race with a broken neck.
Since leaving Downing Street 12 years ago, Hakim, the co-author of the book Women, Islam and Western Liberalism and a former adviser to Trevor Phillips and a director at the Commission for Racial Equality, has continued to advise Labour, including filing a report that predicted the circumstances which allowed Respect’s George Galloway to win the Bradford by-election.
With Respect stating that they intend to run a candidate in Croydon North – once they can identify a candidate – it will be interesting to observe whether Labour will take on board Hakim’s advice, or Hakim herself.
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