NEXT month’s snap General Election will see a rematch between two of Bradford’s political heavyweights.
Bradford East’s former Liberal Democrat MP David Ward is poised to be selected as the party’s candidate to fight its sitting Labour MP Imran Hussain, the Telegraph and Argus can reveal.
The pair - who both sit as councillors on Bradford Council - ran against each other in an occasionally bitter contest in the 2015 General Election, when Mr Ward lost his seat to Mr Hussain.
At the count, a clearly upset Mr Ward could not even bring himself to share the podium with Mr Hussain as his victory with a 7,000-vote margin was declared.
The Liberal Democrats are now understood to be ready to pour their efforts locally into trying to win the seat back.
Mr Ward said local constituents could judge both himself and Mr Hussain on their records as MPs.
He said: “I will hopefully be compared favourably to the two years they have seen of him.”
He said he also hoped the Liberal Democrats could attract voters who didn’t want a hard Brexit, as well as those who didn’t support Mrs May as Prime Minister but who wouldn’t be voting Labour “because of the state they are in”.
Mr Hussain refuted any suggestion of a grudge match, saying the “election isn’t about individuals, it’s about the best interests of the people of Bradford”.
He said he prided himself on being a hardworking and accessible MP for Bradford, and had seen “thousands of people in under two years”.
He added: “It is these qualities that the people of Bradford wanted, it is these qualities that they voted for and it is these qualities that they got, and it is this track record that I will be standing on in June.”
Political parties are hurriedly trying to get candidates in place for all seats, with many caught off-guard by Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to call the snap election.
The Conservatives are in the midst of selecting candidates, with a spokesman saying the “process is ongoing”.
It is understood local associations will choose their candidates and sitting MPs, such as Shipley’s Philip Davies and Keighley’s Kris Hopkins, may need to be reselected by their respective associations.
Labour Party officials confirmed all its sitting MPs would be automatically reselected for the election, including sitting MPs Mr Hussain, Naz Shah in Bradford West and Judith Cummins in Bradford South.
For seats without Labour MPs, the party is inviting nominations by Sunday.
Its ruling National Executive Committee will then select candidates in the following days, a departure from the party’s usual process of holding local hustings and inviting members to choose candidates.
A Labour spokesman said the snap election hadn’t left them enough time to do this.
The Liberal Democrats are understood to have already had people lined up as potential candidates, in case of a snap election.
They are likely to be officially unveiled in the coming days.
The Green party will select candidates for the three Bradford seats and Shipley at an event on May 3, with the Keighley process taking place separately.
But the district’s Green chairman, Celia Hickson, said as a smaller party it was by no means guaranteed that they would be able to stand candidates in all seats, as they had to have both “people willing to stand” and the money to back their campaigns.
She said they had bankrolled the last General Election using crowdfunding, but the snap election meant there wasn’t time to do this.
“It’s not an easy one,” she said.
No-one from UKIP was available to speak about its selection process.
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