A former Labour general election candidate who has been critical of Jeremy Corbyn has challenged her party to put her on the shortlist to fight the Oldham West and Royton byelection as a “disabled, working class woman”.
Kate Godfrey, who has worked for the UN and stood for Labour in Stafford at the election, said Corbyn does not represent “effective opposition” and criticised the appointment of Guardian journalist Seumas Milne as his director of strategy.
Despite her comments, Godfrey said she is planning to publish her application online in a public bid to become the candidate for the byelection, which was triggered by the death of former environment minister and Corbyn supporter Michael Meacher.
She said: “I don’t think there are enough people like me in the Labour party. I was contacted by the CLP [constituency Labour party] and asked to put my name forward. And if I am not shortlisted, I think it would be very dismissive … not to take it seriously.
“If anyone turns around and says you’re not the right type of Labour, and they have rejected a disabled, working class woman candidate who has in the past depended on benefits, that would be a remarkable statement about the people who matter to the Labour party now.”
Godfrey has also recently spoken of the harassment and stalking she allegedly suffered from a group of “hard left” members of the party in the runup to the 2015 election.
She declared she wanted to be a candidate as it emerged that Labour had already kicked off its selection battle, which rules that members must have belonged to the party for at least 12 months in order to stand.
The frontrunner in the race is likely to be Jim McMahon, the leader of Oldham council, who has not yet officially declared but is strongly tipped to be the main contender.
There was speculation that Jon Lansman, a key member of Corbyn’s inner circle and former employee of Meacher, could throw his hat into the ring but he has ruled out standing.
The seat is a highly desirable one for would-be MPs as the party is strongly expected to resist competition from Ukip and the Conservatives to hold the seat.
Candidates for the byelection have until Friday to submit their CVs and applications, with interviews next Monday and the whole process completed by Thursday 5 November.
Ukip has not declared its candidate but the frontrunner is thought to be John Bickley. He almost gave Labour a shock at the Heywood and Middleton byelection in 2014 by coming just 617 votes short of taking the seat.
This article was written by Rowena Mason Political correspondent, for theguardian.com on Thursday 29th October 2015 00.20 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010