A FEW wry smiles at the Town Hall today as it emerged that Sarah Hayward, our council leader for another 20 days, has been shortlisted to be the Labour general election candidate in Hull West and Hessel, a safe seat for the party. The vacancy there arises from Alan Johnson’s decision to step down from the House of Commons.
It will look to some that she has announced she is quitting as council leader, suggesting she fancies a bit of a break from politics, and then is immediately bouncing into the fire of the election. But Sarah had made her announcement before any of us – including a lot of Conservatives – knew Theresa May was going to shout ‘snap’. Still, it sets up the possibility that the two council group leaders, Sarah and Claire-Louise Leyland, who were looking across the council chamber at each other on Monday could in six weeks time be staring across the House of Commons at each other as MPs.
“I’m originally from there and went to Hull uni,” Sarah says. “I still have friends and family there, so it seemed too good to pass it over. It isn’t actually what I’d intended to do on standing down as council leader. But I’d love to represent Hull. It would really be a big honour.”
Watch out though. Just as one of her predecessors in the council leader’s office at the Town Hall, Raj Chada, found when he looked north for a seat in Darlington, the local press were quickly on the case to google Sarah. Very soon after the news was released, the Hull Daily Mail welcomed her to town by repeating her words from an interview with the Ham and High, in which she was quoted as saying: “I have no problem with people being ambitious for parliament and going off around country as others in group have done, but it’s not for me to go and pretend to love Leicester this week, and Hull next week, and Liverpool the week after.”
More worrying for those wanting to see Sarah at Westminster, however, will be analysis from Paul Waugh at the Huffington Post, who reports that Sam Tarry – a Jeremy Corbyn aide – is in line to take the seat after some backstage manoeuvring. David Prescott, son of John, is also in the running with a decision due by Friday.