The battle is hotting up to replace Barry Sheerman as Labour’s candidate at the next General Election – and take pole position to be the town’s next MP.
Mr Sheerman, 82 next month, will stand down as Huddersfield MP at the next General Election and the local party has announced its seven candidates have been whittled down to a four-person shortlist.
The final four candidates are: former Ashbrow councillor Harpreet Uppal; commercial lawyer Hugh Goulbourne; Dalton councillor and Kirklees Council Cabinet member for health and social care Musarrat Khan; and union activist and secretary of Huddersfield Constituency Labour Party Mark Morris.
The candidates who failed to make the shortlist were: Kirklees Council leader Shabir Pandor; Cabinet member and Dalton councillor Naheed Mather; and James Flinders, a Huddersfield-born former York councillor.
Mr Sheerman has been Huddersfield MP since 1979 and before that his predecessor Sir William Mallalieu was the town’s Labour MP from 1950 to 1979. Huddersfield has never had a woman MP and there are two women on the current shortlist.
Labour members will now vote for Mr Sheerman’s replacement and the result will be known at a final selection meeting on July 16.
Given Labour’s dominance of the Huddersfield constituency since the end of the Second World War, the winner of the contest will become heavy favourite to succeed Mr Sheerman as Huddersfield’s MP.
Ms Uppal, a former Fartown High School student who works for Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams, said: “It feels fantastic to be in the running to represent my home, a place where I have grown up, went to school and represented at local council level.
“My teacher at Fartown High School, Mrs Perry, believed in me and suggested I went into politics. Years later I am proud to be shortlisted and have the chance to return that belief and bring real positive change to our community.
“Huddersfield is an amazing place with lots of great opportunities. It has never had a woman MP, though, and it is about time that we did. I would love to bring a fresh energy and optimism and be a voice for everyone here.”
Mr Goulbourne said: “I am delighted to be on the shortlist to be Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Huddersfield at the next General Election. I care deeply about our town and it would be an honour to represent my home, and the place where I’m raising my young family.
“I have the experience and values to move Huddersfield forward. In everything I do I bring people together and take responsibility for results, from my work as a lawyer in Yorkshire to championing an affordable heating project for council house tenants and helping to run multiple youth sports programs, environmental projects and town centre campaigns.
“It’s clear Boris Johnson’s Conservatives don’t care about what’s going on up here. Rather than addressing the all too real cost of living crisis, they are just interested in slogans and parties.
“I am looking forward to speaking to more Labour Party members over the next couple of weeks to put my case forward for why I’m the best candidate to beat the Tories and stand up for Huddersfield in Westminster.”
Mr Morris said: “I am delighted to be on the shortlist and a strong contender to be the next Labour candidate in my home town.
“I am confident I will add a unique perspective to the race to become Huddersfield’s next MP. I am immensely proud to have the opportunity to speak up for people facing similar challenges to those I have experienced and can truly understand.
“This town has always been a good place to live and I want to create a new sense of excitement for politics in our young people and residents from a broader range of backgrounds.
“Nothing prevents us from transforming our town from being a good place to live to a great place to flourish, Bringing Huddersfield Communities Together!”
Clr Khan said: “I am both honoured and humbled to have been shortlisted for the position of the next Huddersfield Labour Parliamentary candidate.
“I have lived in Huddersfield since I was child. I attended local schools, Huddersfield College and its great university.
“I have a proven and consistent track record of working hard for the people of Huddersfield both in my role as ward councillor and as a Cabinet member.
“As an ordinary worker, mother and Huddersfield resident I understand from first-hand experience the struggles and pressures of attaining an education, seeking meaningful employment, and the pressures of bringing up a family.
“The people I serve as a councillor inform me that I am ‘straight talking’, approachable and a trustworthy politician; and that they want to see ‘one of them’ as their parliamentary representative.
“I have great ambitions for our fabulous town and its people. I am hoping the local Labour Party membership gets behind me to support me to be the next representative of the town I love so much.”