Chaos in Hodge Hill as Labour fails to reselect Anita Ward for a second time
Labour’s efforts to select a candidate in Hodge Hill for next year’s Birmingham city council elections collapsed into stalemate after members refused to endorse sitting councillor Anita Ward for a second time.
Two women withdrew their selection applications suddenly from a ward selection meeting last night, leaving Cllr Ward as the only prospective candidate in the room – but local party members refused to hold a vote.
A Labour member who was at the meeting told Chamberlain Files: “People were shouting and saying ‘no we aren’t going to vote for you’. There was concern that Anita doesn’t even live in the ward.
This is the second time she’s failed to be selected. You’d think she’d get the message by now.
Another Labour member who was at the meeting said:
It’s clear what’s going on. They are trying to force Anita out. They want her to stand down and walk away so they don’t have to vote her out.
Two weeks ago, Cllr Ward failed by 18 votes to three to win a ‘trigger ballot’ vote, which meant she had to face a formal reselection procedure and would not automatically go forward as the candidate.
The former Lord Mayor who has served Hodge Hill for 20 years told Chamberlain Files last week that she was “finished” and didn’t believe she would be selected. She blamed an unnamed faction for plotting against her.
Supporters of Cllr Ward have been lobbying on her behalf via a #IstandWithAnita campaign on Twitter and Facebook.
There are unsubstantiated claims that Cllr Ward voted for Cllr Penny Holbrook at the recent Labour leadership election rather than Cllr John Clancy, who won the contest and is now city council leader.
Some Labour members have used social media to claim that a purge of Clancy’s opponents is under way across Birmingham in order to shore up his position should there be another leadership contest next May – an allegation firmly denied by the council leader.
There are probably three options for Cllr Ward if she is not reselected, as seems certain.
She could resign and force a by-election at which she could stand as an independent. She could resign the Labour whip and sit as an independent in the council chamber. She could simply accept what has happened and look to return in 2017 in another seat.
Labour will now have to arrange a second selection meeting. It is unclear whether Cllr Ward will be a candidate.
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