Oldham by-election candidates take their places

Written by Jim McMahon – Labour candidate on 6 November 2015 in Diary

Labour, Conservative and Ukip have all now selected their candidates to fight the Oldham West and Royton by-election caused by the death of Labour MP Michael Meacher.

Labour last night picked Oldham Council leader Jim McMahon over three leftwingers.

McMahon secured 232 votes in the final round, while Unite-backed candidate Mohammed Azam took 141. The council leader also saw off competition from Chris Williamson, the former Labour MP for Derby North.

McMahon's main challenger for the seat is expected to be Ukip candidate John Bickley. In the 2015 general election, Labour won with 55% of the vote while Ukip came second on 21%.

Earlier this week, CCHQ announced that the Tory candidate would be James Daly, a criminal defence solicitor. The Conservatives came third in the seat earlier this year, picking up 19% of the vote.

The by-election takes place on 3 December. 


Who is he?

The son of a truck driver who is now leader of Oldham Council at just 35. McMahon is something of a Labour local government hotshot who is considered wise beyond his years. He is no Corbynista and opponents have tried to paint him as right of Labour’s centre, partly because he backed Liz Kendall's leadership bid. But having avoided any direct attacks on Labour's left flank, McMahon cannot be easily parcelled up as a Blairite either. Next month, he picks up an OBE for his services to the community in Oldham. 

What he says

Corbynites will not be particularly impressed with a recent piece for Progress in which McMahon suggested that local government can cope creatively with austerity. He stated: "Labour local government has admirably led the way over the past five years in demonstrating what it can achieve even in a cold financial and political climate nationally."

But McMahon recently claimed that much of his politics aligned with Jeremy Corbyn’s, telling The Guardian: “On issues like austerity, I’m very close to Jeremy indeed. I think our public services are buckling under the cuts.”

With Labour’s patriotism under Corbyn having been called into question by Ukip, McMahon has said he relishes fighting on this territory in Oldham: “My grandfather served in the army, my father and my partner’s fathers were in the Territorial Army. I raised money to restore my local cenotaph. On 18 December I will be going with pride to London to collect my OBE from the Queen and bring it back to Oldham as a local boy done good. If they want to pick a fight on patriotism, bring it on.”


John Bickley – Ukip candidate

Who is he?

A local small business owner and perennial Ukip by-election candidate in the north of England. Most recently, Bickley came close to winning in the nearby seat of Heywood & Middleton in a by-election last year.

What he says

Like many Kippers, Bickley is no stranger to controversy. He has suggested that women who have profile pictures on LinkedIn “want to be objectified”. He has also tweeted that the attack on Charlie Hebdo meant it was “time for UKIP” to come to the fore.

Bickley hopes to win over disillusioned Labour voters by focusing on Jeremy Corbyn's vulnerabilities. He is arguing that the Labour leader is unpatriotic and therefore the Labour party is anti-Britain: “I used to believe in Labour. Like many in my family before me I thought that the Labour Party believed in representing the hard working people of our country. That was a long time ago. Far from believing in the people of Britain, Corbyn’s Labour Party would rather sympathise with the IRA than sing our national anthem to honour our brave armed forces.”

James Daly – Tory candidate

Who is he?

The deputy leader of the Conservative group on Bury council who contested Bolton North East for the Tories in the general election. Daly went to live with his grandmother in Yorkshire after his parents split up when he was four. His mother then went to night-school while working to gain the necessary qualifications to become a social worker. Daly now works as a legal aid solicitor.

What he says

In January, Daly told the Bolton News he decided to become a Tory for the party's its ethos of hard work, after being inspired by his mother: “My mum had nothing but worked hard until she was in the position to become a social worker. For me that was, and always will be, the reason I am a Conservative.”

He has also said that he intends to vote to leave the EU in the forthcoming referendum.

And he already sounds like a Tory MP, having pledged to stand up for “the hardworking people of Oldham West and Royton”.



We should point out that the Lib Dems - who took just 3.7 per cent of the vote in May - have also selected their candidate. And she's not a white male...




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