Birmingham Hall Green: Outgoing Labour MP backs Respect

By L J Shaughnessy

Labour’s campaign to hold the redrawn Birmingham Hall Green seat has been dealt a body blow by retiring MP Dr Lynne Jones for who has publicly backed Respect candidate Salma Yaqoob over incumbent Labour MP Roger Godsiff.

Dr Jones, who was MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, declined to comment further on her decision to endorse Yaqoob and referred to her recent statement in which she said; “I am not happy with the endorsement of the Labour candidate in that constituency. Salma Yaqoob is an excellent candidate of great ability who, as a councillor, has shown that she works hard for her constituents. I have a lot of time for her.”

Mr. Godsiff today told politics.co.uk that he had ‘no reaction’ to Dr. Jones statement.

Mr Godsiff’s campaigning presence is already thin on the ground in Hall Green though and is being largely eclipsed by that of Ms Yaqoob who, at the last election, reduced Labour’s majority in the seat from 21,087 to 13,787 coming in second.

Speculation is rife that the Labour party are split in the seat. One well known local activist who asked not to be named said he was disappointed by Mr. Godsiff’s absence at a hustings meeting and confirmed a reported defection of several Labour activists to Respect.

On Lynne Jones’s endorsement, and the reported defection, Ms Yaqoob told politics.co.uk: “You can always tell when the wind is changing when hard core activists start coming over from the other side.

“I think it is a shame Lynne Jones is stepping down, and I have always said I wouldn’t have stood against her if she was Labour’s candidate. I’m really heartened by the support I have got.”