Iain Malcolm for South Shields is not good news for Jarrow’s MP
One person who may not be entirely happy if – as expected – the leader of South Tyneside council, Iain Malcolm, inherits David Miliband’s Commons seat is his parliamentary neighbour, Stephen Hepburn, MP for Jarrow. Relations between the Jarrow and South Shields Labour parties have always been patchy, at best. Back in 1994, when Hepburn and Malcolm were both councillors, they had an argument that descended into violence. Hepburn was fined £75 for assault.
For Councillor Malcolm, it has been a long wait. He wanted to go for the seat when the previous MP, David Clark, pulled out on the eve of the 2001 general election, but was warned off. It was explained to him that Clark’s resignation was a decision made in Downing Street, under which Clark would create an opening for Miliband, and in return he became Baron Clark of Windermere.
UPDATE: Iain Malcolm is not the only local man interested in the seat. John Robertson, former boss of a small Jarrow-based scaffolding company, tells me he is going to run. I suspect he is what they call an outsider, not least because he received a suspended prison sentence in 2011 for causing £160,000 damages by smashing his lorry into the headquarters of South Tyneside Homes. He wanted to run for South Tyneside council, but has a letter from the former Cabinet office minister, Mark Harper, saying his conviction disqualifies him from being a councillor. Oddly, he has a subsequent letter, from the same minister, saying that it doesn’t disqualify him from becoming an MP.
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