Michael Dugher, Gordon Brown’s political spokesman, was recently rumoured to be going for the Labour candidacy in Ashfield, set to be vacated by his former boss Geoff Hoon.
Instead I can reveal that Dugher has just emerged as one of four candidates on the shortlist for Barnsley East, where current MP Jeff Ennis is stepping down. This is a plum of a safe seat, with a notional majority of more than 50 per cent – or 17,000 votes*.
Mr Dugher, who was born in Edlington, in the neighbouring constituency, will be up against charity worker Sally Waters, former Yorkshire MEP David Bowe and Lisa Homan, a councillor in Hammersmith and Fulham. I would be astonished, given his credentials, if he doesn’t emerge as the candidate in just over a week.
Dugher, who grew up in Edlington, just a few miles from the constituency, was a special adviser to Geoff Hoon** before he was invited into 10 Downing Street to run Brown’s media operation. He is widely credited for restoring order after the disaster of McBride-gate.
He fought Skipton & Ripon in 2001, coming third. In 2005, he was beaten by Ed Miliband to the candidacy of Doncaster North. In other words, he’s waited his turn.
* In the last election Labour got 70 per cent, Lib Dems 16 per cent and Tories 11 per cent: hard to see how Labour can lose it.
** His previous roles have included special adviser to John Spellar, a lobbyist at EDS and head of policy at the AEEU union.