A former Lord Mayor of Manchester and current North West MEP from Brierfield has been selected to be Labour’s candidate for the Manchester Gorton by-election, which will take place on May 4th.
Afzal Khan (58), who was born in Jhelum in Pakistan but came to Brierfield as an adopted child at the age of 12, was selected by local Labour members in a meeting held in Manchester on Wednesday, 22nd March, as he beat away competition from four other candidates, including the Momentum-backed Yasmine Dar.
A former worker at the Smith & Nephew cotton mill in the North Western town, Khan overcame an initial lack of English to work as a bus driver and as a Greater Manchester Police officer before moving on to excel in academia, completing a law degree and qualifing as a solicitor to work at a firm in Oldham.
“I’m delighted to be selected by local members to be Labour’s candidate for the Manchester Gorton by-election,” said Khan, who - in 2005, became Manchester’s youngest and first Asian Lord Mayor. “This is my home and I will always be a strong voice for the people of Gorton.
“Tory cuts have gone too far,” he added. “Older people; those needing support for mental health, disabilities, and learning difficulties; and those affected by homelessness, alcohol, and drugs are being hit by drastic funding cuts driven through by Theresa May’s heartless government.”
Khan was origianlly elected to become a Manchester Councillor in 2000 and has a long history of campaigning against racism as a founding member of Hope not Hate and Unite Against Fascism, going on to be awarded a CBE for his work on community cohesion, inter-faith, and local government in 2008.
The Gorton seat - a Labour stronghold since 1935 and for which Khan will be challenged by the independent candidate, George Galloway - has been vacant since the death of Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufman, who passed away at the age of 86 as Westminster’s longest-serving MP.
The 36-year-old Jess Mayo, an entrepreneur, has been elected as the Green Party’s candidate, while the Liberal Democrats have elected software engineer, Jackie Pearcey. The Conservatives and UKIP have yet to announce their candidates.