The perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog decided last week that they were now experts on the constituency of Rochdale, despite their having difficulty locating the area on a map. This enabled them to sound off about who will represent the town, now that their pal Simon Danczuk has been declared persona non grata by those vetting candidates for the Labour Party.
“Danczuk Made To Grovel To Corbynista Who Might Replace Him” claimed The Great Guido, telling readers “Corbynista-ultra Katy Clark is being talked about as the current favourite to replace Danczuk on the ballot. Clark works in Corbyn’s office as his political secretary so her selection would be the ultimate parachute-job … Last week Clark withdrew from the race to replace Andy Burnham in Leigh, so she’s definitely interested in a Manchester seat”. It would not be her call. But do go on.
“Even more galling for Danczuk – Guido hears he was made to speak to Katy Clark as his leader’s office contact regarding his suspension as recently as last week. A source said ‘Simon was on the phone to Katy just days ago trying to get some information from the leader’s office on what was going to happen, whether he would be let back in or not. All the time she was lining herself up for the seat’”. Yeah, right.
That would have been the source not unadjacent to Danczuk himself - after all, he was the Fawkes mob’s only source on anything Greater Manchester related. And as for their hunch about Katy Clark, maybe they got this from the Guardian’s Anushka Asthana, who had taken to Twitter the day before to make the suggestion.
Ms Asthana told “Local folk tell me they've been told Katy Clark is being lined up” but also cautioned “I think local party backlash possible as they want local candidate and not someone chosen by party hq”. Not everyone got that second Tweet, with Jennifer Williams of the MEN claiming “There is a rumour Katy Clark is being lined up for Rochdale”.
Mike Joslin also took the rumour about Ms Clark, but at least added a proper factual nugget: “My exclusive on former Labour MP Tony Lloyd running for Rochdale against Katy Clark”. Paul Waugh, though, had taken the Clark rumour as reliable, observing “Now here's an interesting development for us Rochdalians [Tony Lloyd]. But it may not be enough to stop Corbyn aide Katy Clark”. It didn’t need to be.
Katy Clark is not on the shortlist. As Rochdale Online has confirmed, those so favoured are Lloyd, Kailash Chand, Zahid Chuhan, and Chris Furlong. The Fawkes rabble have not commented further; perhaps they don’t want to dig themselves even deeper.
The Great Guido was wrong about Andy Burnham getting the nomination to stand for Labour in the Metro Mayor contest. It was wrong about Danczuk being allowed to stand for Rochdale. And now it’s wrong about one of Jeremy Corbyn’s staff being parachuted into the constituency. With this rate of success, they have no need of failure.
The Fawkes blog should stick to Westminster tittle-tattle. Another fine mess.