Marshalling The Opposition: Guest Post by Simon Cross.

We now know Soubz is the Tory choice for 2015, but what about the other parties? The Lib Dems tell me they are not selecting until 2014, but it won’t be Watts, who has decided to put his aspirations on hold after failing to stand as PPC in Chesterfield. His campaign video is viewable here. Former Labour activist Sarah Brown, perhaps? Certanly be a fitting gift for her floor crossing.

Labour’s selection is underway, and as mentioned before, is a sensitive subject. I still feel it’s going to be Palmer, though I’ve received some messages telling me how misguided that assumption is, assuring me it’s a lot closer than expected. Thus, I’m giving all candidates an opportunity to present their case here.

The first is from Simon Cross, on behalf of Greg Marshall. If the other candidates want to send me their pieces in, I’ll get them hosted. I must state I do not personally endorse ANY candidate, and as I’m not a member of Labour, or any political party, it would be wrong for me to state a preference. I merely want to provide a forum. Over to Simon Cross:

Marshall(ing) the Opposition to Palmer


When Nick Palmer lost his seat by just shy of 400 votes in the 2010 General it was a fair bet we expected him to return and face Soubry in 2015. He underlined his determination by taking out adverts in the Beeston Express to encourage locals to join the party and support him in this endeavour. But it hasn’t worked out quite like he had hoped as the Labour Party now embarks on its process to select a parliamentary candidate to contest Broxtowe.


Nick’s loyalty to the Blair leadership (don’t mention the war or his soon to be godfather role in the Murdoch dynasty) over 13 years is well documented and has rendered this otherwise thoroughly decent chap vulnerable to a challenge for his right to return as his party’s standard-bearer. Constituents have long memories and those who feel betrayed and let down by the now discredited New Labour model are seeking a more credible candidate whose actions and campaigns speak as loud as their rhetoric … the race to be anointed Broxtowe’s Labour candidate has become less predictable.


So who could become the main challenger? Enter (stage left) Beeston born and bred left wing Councillor Greg Marshall, a politician never known to duck a challenge and who perhaps unusually – given his strong campaigning political proclivities- speaks fluent common sense. The good Alderman Marshall, of Beeston West parish and a governor at his alma mater Chilwell Comp, is the son of the ex-union convenor at Plessey works. He is also standing on a platform in clear opposition to the drift and malaise that characterizes much political debate – especially in how the economic crisis should be tackled.


Cllr Marshall’s distinctive espousal of an anti-austerity message and searing critique of NHS ‘reform’/butchery (i.e. privatization), academisation of schools and attacks on the welfare state has provided clear red water between him and his principal rival Nick Palmer who started off as the frontrunner. It has shaken up what at first seemed a predictable contest that also draws in parachutists from West Bridgford, Bulwell and even the Wirral. With Cllr Marchall’s hat now in the ring Labour politics in Broxtowe has become truly local and seriously interesting. As they say, watch this space …


Simon Cross 29 June 2013

20 thoughts on “Marshalling The Opposition: Guest Post by Simon Cross.

  1. The Enforcer says:

    “Watts, who has decided to put his aspirations on hold after failing to stand as PPC in Chesterfield. ”

    So it now becomes very clear the very reason Watto refuses to do anything about Wombell still remaining a Stapleford Councillor despite moving to Somerset.

    Because he too wanted to stand in an area where he doesn’t live.

    Just like Chilwell & Toton he wasn’t wanted in Chesterfield.

  2. Nick Palmer says:

    i’m making no criticisms at all of Greg and I’m happy to leave it to members to decide between all of us. But I’ll just point out that we agree on almost every issue I can think of: stopping privatisation of public services, giving hope to victims of benefit cuts with concrete pledges of what we will reverse (let’s start with the 7-day rule and the bedroom tax), don’t waste money on another Trident, restore LEA control of education; to these I’d add rolling rail renationalisation, and learning the lessons of Iraq (on which Simon is quite right to criticise me, as I said in 2010) by committing only to intervene abroad with a UN mandate: we should aim to be a powerful Norway, effectively boosting the UN and noted for our effective mediation, not a micro-America.pondering which clique to back in Syria.

    The point isn’t that we’re identical candidates – of course there are differences in style and approach. But in selections it’s easy to exaggerate differences in a way that makes it harder to win later on. If any of the other candidates win Ilook forward to supporting them, since we have far more in common with each other than with Anna Soubry. They wlil, i think, generally agree.

    I would add that those of you who haven’t (re?)joined the Labour Party are missing a lot fof fun!

  3. Karen says:

    Nick, Its all very well saying you oppose privatisation of public services but did you oppose Labour’s moves towards NHS privatisation when you were our MP?

    • Nick Palmer says:

      Karen: No – together with the Iraq war it’s one of the two main things I regret. Each individual step looked plausible at the time (e.g. the Ilkeston eye clinic did reduce waiting times dramatically) and the scope was limited to <10%, but it wasn't until after I left Parliament that I realsied the overall effect was to make it easy for the Tories to open the floodgates. I think it's a very reasonable criticism that I should have seen that coming (I did spot exactly that on Royal Mail part-privatisation and opposed that vigorously). In fact one reason I'm seeking to stand again is because I want to use the insights I've gained looking back on the last period; MPs evolve as well as voters!

      • Sadly, your reply speaks volumes. These aren’t mistakes or things any self-respecting Labour MP should be in a position to ‘regret.’ These are simple class issues and their abandonment is precisely why Blue Labour is now as enthusiastic as the Tories in hammering the working class.
        Sorry, Mr Palmer, you had your chance and blew it. If you win the selection, I’ll not be voting Labour, as I haven’t done since 1992. If Marshall wins, however, stick me down as a ‘yes.’

  4. If Nick is the Labour candidate then it’s likely he will get my vote as he was a good MP. I don’t consider myself as a natural Labour voter though especially after the Blair/Brown ending.
    A good MP though is worth their weight in gold as they seem to be few and far between. Many seem to forget the people they represent and whom voted for them. Nick wasn’t one.

  5. David Watts says:

    Having observed Nick as an MP for many years and Greg as a councillor for the last two I’m struggling to think of any way that they are similar, as Nick claims. I think he also ought to be honest that the things he says he will campaign for are not Labour policy (they did after all introduce the bedroom tax for private tenants when they were in power).

  6. Nick Palmer says:

    Nice to you to spare us some time from Chesterfield, Dave! Are you applying anywhere else?

    • David Watts says:

      Chesterfield was six months ago. It was never a secret – I had a web site, email list and video to support my campaign but carried on working in Broxtowe in the meantime. I didn’t win in Chesterfield but they did select another very good candidate instead – Julia Cambridge.

      I note that you didn’t actually answer my point and admit that the things you were mention were not Labour Party Policy. I have though worked out two ways now of figuring out what Labour Party policy is:
      a) Look at what they are currently opposing that the coalition is doing and they will then adopt it as a policy in about six months time; and
      b) Ask Len McCluskey to tell us. He seems to be in charge of Labour now.

      One answer that we never do seem to get from Labour is where they think cuts should have been made since 2010 – Alistair Darling said that there would have to be massive cuts but would never say where. Labour initially opposed every cut that the coalition made so presumably they thought that there were other places to cut instead – where are they?

      (And finally Nick, no-one who knows me calls me Dave.)



      • Nick Palmer says:


        Hey, I’m standing in a selection so expressing my own views. If we all simply stated party policy we could just issue a joint communique and then spend a month playing Farmville. I know that you dutifully follow the twists and turns of LibDem policy as it undulates eel-like around the political spectrum (I remember your claiming to be the only realistic chance to stop the Tories, days before welcoming a coalition with them), but at the moment Labour members want to know what we stand for as individuals. Remember individuals? Used to be important to many LibDems.

        As for Len McCluskey, he seems even more critical of Labour than you are at the moment. If he’s running it, that’s odd.

        Anyway, that’s enough about us, flattering though you interest is (shall I send you a membership form?). Tell us about the other selections you’re going for.

        Cheers, Nick

  7. I guess the problem for non affiliated voters like myself is to try and put a cross in the box of the least worse person on offer, from the least worse party. But with so much ‘tit for tatting’ and mud slinging that will happen, its always very difficult. I would say that Nick was generally a good MP for Broxtowe. At least you could bump into him on the High Road sometimes, so you know he was around and aware of what was happening in his constituency. But no one knows what the Labour Party will be like or will stand for at the next election. They don’t seem to know now! Yes, they will probably generally say the opposite of what the Tory party will stand on, but probably wouldn’t do anything different if they were to get in power. NHS & Royal Mail will probably end up being privatised, as probably the party leaders are already shareholders in the companies that will be bidding for these services. I guess the biggest problem for the Lib Dems, is now that they are tainted with working with/for Cameron, will people be able to work out that they are in fact a different party, or will they be worried about another Con/Dem, Lib/Lab pact?

    • Nick Palmer says:

      Christoipher – Personally I think the LibDems will need to give a fairly clear indication of their preference if they want to get more than their absolute rock bottom vote. “Vote for us and we’ll see what we do with it after the election” isn’t going to cut it next time.

      I think the fixed 5-year parliament (which I didn’t especially object to) has had an unfortunate side-effect – it’s made all the parties feel they have until 2014 to decide what the want to do next time, since anything we say now may look dated and stale in two years. It should feel less like that before 2015 – through my NGO day job I’m aware of a great deal of frenetic policy work going on.

    • Helen Henry says:

      I understand your dilemma,Christopher. I am supporting Greg Marshall not least because he has proved himself to be a man who fulfils his promises. As a District Councillor,he stood as a Labour candidate and also as an Anti Cuts candidate (not Labour Party policy). This made it difficult for him when he found himself in opposition to the Labour Group on the Council. But he had promised the electorate that he would abide by his manifesto and he did. So if you agree with his beliefs and ideals he can be trusted to stick to them.
      If you are interested,go to his website and look at his record . We need people like him at Westminster

  8. Steve Carr says:

    Nick. I am really surprised that you find it so difficult to grasp the concept of coalition given your European background. I would estimate that there will still be around 60 LibDem MPs in 2015 (led by Tim Farron) given personal popularity and strict targeting. That means another coalition. My question to all potential Labour candidates would be, if you were the largest party would you work with us?

    • Nick Palmer says:

      Naturally, assuming a reasonable arrangement could be reached.

      • Chris says:

        The negotiations over the current coalition agreement were a joke. Tuition fees should have been the first thing on Nick Clegg’s list of demands but he threw this pledge away for an AV referendum and since has overseen an NHS overhaul that was in neither party’s manifesto. Would a new leader of the party manage to do any better in coalition negotiations in 2015 or would they once again sell out their beliefs for a ride in a ministerial car?

        Out of interest, who would our Lib Dem friends prefer to form a coalition with next time round? Tories or Labour?

  9. Steve Carr says:

    And by the way…. the electorate decide the Government not the LibDems

  10. Peter Chatfield says:

    I am not nor ever have been a member of any political party (although I have served at various times as Chair or Secretary of the Union branch in my then workplace as a civil servant and in my last employment before retirement -for TGWU not Unite,a Shop Steward ) and so I have no part in selecting candidates for any party, However whilst freely admitting that I have voted for members of one party in local elections and on their record as local Councillors will in all probability vote the same way in future, I do think that we should consider the LOCAL efficacy of our next MP when it comes to casting our vote and to this effect I do think that Nick Palner coiuld not be bettered either as the first choice for the Labour candidacy, nor as our MP. Certainly even whilst out of office he seems to have more genuine interest in local affairs than the present incumbent.

  11. Nick,

    I’m very surprised that you choose to make an issue of people standing for other constituencies, as you were living outside the constituency when you were Broxtowe MP.

    As you said when you & I appeared on BBC Radio Nottingham in May, it isn’t essential for an MP to live in, be from or be local to the constituency they represent; if you have forgotten how you justified that I have a recording of the broadcast with which you can refresh your memory.

    Or is this another political stance you are now “regretting” because it has become politically inconvenient?

    • Nick Palmer says:

      Thanks for the interest, Alasdair – always interesting to hear from other parties and I feel sure your intervention is well meant :-). I don’t think it matters where people sleep, unless they make a song and dance about promptly moving to the constituency if elected and then, er, don’t. Nor do I think that you have to come from a constituency to stand for it – it obviously helps but one can acquire a keen interest. However, if one applies for a variety of seats, one gets teased about it. That’s life!

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