In the second of a three-part series, Jim Greenhalf looks at the new MPs in Bradford seats

THE next leader of the Labour Party will be elected by all the membership of the party nationally for the first time on a one person one vote system. Neither the trades unions nor the parliamentary Labour Party will have a block vote say in the matter.

Imran Hussain, who won the Bradford East seat for Labour from Liberal Democrat David Ward, joined with other nine other newly-elected Labour MPs in signing a letter to the party's acting leader Harriet Harman declaring that the next leader should be on the left.

The erstwhile deputy leader of Bradford Council under Ian Greenwood and latterly David Green, said: "There were three or four of us who thought of the letter. We decided it was important to set out what MPs are looking for in a leader.

"The party didn't connect with core voters at the General Election because some of them were trying to make the party something it wasn't. We are going to meet all the candidates for the leadership."


Former Bradford South Labour MP Gerry Sutcliffe thinks he should have held back from committing himself so early in his parliamentary career.

He said: "On the back of losing Bradford West to George Galloway in the 2012 parliamentary by-election I think he feels he's got to come out of the blocks pretty quickly, although he's well established and has been around a long time.

"He's in the John Prescott mold. He speaks too fast and loudly. You're either with him or against him, there's no in-between."

Imran's defeat by Respect Party candidate George Galloway more than three years ago led to a Labour Party inquiry, especially after the-then leader Ed Miliband came to Bradford to endorse him personally, describing him as a "fantastic candidate, somebody who grew up locally, somebody who worked as a barrister, someone who has got huge experience on the council."

None of that mattered a jot to the disillusioned voters of Bradford West at the time, who were tired and evidently angry at being taken for granted by the constituency party. Galloway was the fire-hose who delivered the salutary douche of cold water.

Imran said: "The biggest lesson I learned from that was to be myself, to speak what I feel passionately regardless of what anybody thinks of it. I think that experience made me stronger as a person. Few people will experience something like that in a lifetime."

What few people knew was that Labour's party hierarchy had instructed or advised Imran not to campaign on international matters, in particular British military involvement in the war in Afghanistan. This enabled his opponent to portray him as soft on an issue of great concern to many Bradford West voters.

"He has learned to rely on his own judgement, to be his own man," said Ian Greenwood, who has known Imran for at least 12 years. and is currently helping the MP to set up a constituency office.

"I remember him as a 21-year-old putting a motion down in council against the war in Iraq in 2003. He has learned that party machines do not know what ordinary people are thinking and cannot predict how they will react to things.

"There is a dichotomy nowadays between the political class in Westminster and everybody else. He's an example of a working class lad who has made something of himself against the odds.

"He was told at school by a careers master that his aim to be a lawyer was probably beyond the grasp of somebody from his background. But he became a barrister, paying his way through university by stacking shelves at Morrisons,"he added.

Doubtless he was helped by his family. The Hussains are large and influential in Bradford politics. Imran's father Altaf was himself a Bradford Labour councillor.

The constituency he represents contains inner-city areas such as Little Horton, Bowling and Bradford Moor and suburbs such as Bolton, Eccleshill and Idle - probably the most affluent of the six. He could make himself an inner-city MP but only at the expense of the outer wards of his constituency.

He acknowledged that as a British Muslim there were issues of particular interest which he felt passionately about, but added:-

"The issues that effect the majority of people in Bradford East, whether they live in Fagley or Ravenscliffe, are poverty, jobs and education. Poverty has no religion or ethnicity: it overwhelmingly across all the people I represent.

"My worry is that a Conservative Government will look after the interests of the people at the top at the expense of people poorer than they are.

"We need to get education right in this city. We cannot be having a debate in ten years' time about how education is failing in Bradford. People expect the MPs to get together and sort out education in the district so that young people can aspire to be what they want."