So, looking to that Labour shortlist...
First up is Cllr Ralph Berry, the current Bradford executive member for Children and Young People's Services (yes, that's his job) . He's an old-school Labour politician, sponsored by the Co-Op and (of course) the ultimate rulers of the Party, the Unite Union. Therefore, as you'd expect, he's about furthering the ends of the party's clients in the unions and the public sector. Oddly, despite being a councillor for Wibsey, he chooses to live in Saltaire. Which isn't in this constituency either. Basically, he's been looking for a seat for a while, getting on the shortlist for Bradford West before the Galloway explosion.
His various messages on his website run through Labour policy at a rate of knots, and the impact the 'Tory-led coalition' (sigh) are having on his hopefully soon-to-be constituents. What he doesn't actually do, however, is talk very much about Ilkley. It's always an after-thought...
Keighley and Ilkley people just cannot afford another Tory /Liberal government.
schools throughout Keighley and Ilkley report their worries about the affect the recession is having on our children
Yep, bet the Ilkley ones are...(and, yes, he does mean 'effect', but I don't do grammar flames, even of someone who's in charge of schools)
Sorry, actually that's it. The only mentions of Ilkley.
So, he knows his core vote and he's pursuing it. But then, the Ilkley end of the local Labour Party isn't seemingly supporting him, so this might be sensible.
However, he does have a good story to tell. As Head of education, he's able to spin that Bradford schools have been improving on his watch. But they're still way behind the national average (and that local average is dragged upwards by the good schools in places like, you know, Ilkley), and not everyone agrees.
The real problem for Berry, though, will be the Hamzah Khan story. Despite an 'independent inquiry' which basically came to the conclusion that no-one was to blame, and it would probably happen again, it's unlikely to rest there. While the council officer ultimately responsible for the department will be in the firing line, Berry's name will be mentioned in connection over and over again. Will the Labour party risk two years of that?
The man working the Ilkley end of the Labour Party is Henri Murison, described brilliantly in the Gusset as 'Addingham Man', and by the Ilkley Labour facebook page as 'Our 'enri' (note that common touch...). He's an interesting chap, our 'enri. Only 29 now (and, looking at his photos, in possession of only one 'country-type' shirt), he was, until recently, a member of the 'cabinet' at Newcastle Council in charge of 'Quality of Life'. There he led an interesting project on problem drinking, including introducing the first minimum pricing model in the country. And he also (hold your breath Ilkley) led on new house building, eventually giving way to NIMBYs and agreeing to prioritize building on brownfield sites first.
He;s no friend of the old-left though. His announcement of standing for the Ilkley seat led to some robust twittering from GMT union people in the North-East which put his claims to speak on behalf of the deprived into some context. Murison's recent career is also somewhat chequered. He declared he would run for Police Commissioner of Northumbria (a nice little earner), Then, mysteriously, withdrew. Then came the decision to leave the NOrth-East to follow his wife to Yorkshire. Which resulted in a rather plum job working for the West Yorkshire Police Commissioner (at £41,000pa), in which he lasted five months, before leaving for the 'private sector'. According to his current biog, he works in 'financial services', but that seems to leave enough time to accept donations in Ilkley on behalf of Churches Together, run a food bank (yes, in Ilkley) and campaign for a 'living wage' (aka the god-given right to buy a linen shirt, again in Ilkley). Either all this is clever building of his position in Ilkley, or he's rather under-employed. (EDIT: Mr Murison has contacted me to say he has a full-time job with a mutual)
Mainly, though, he;s a New Labour drone. His twitter feed is a relentless list of re-tweets of the official party position. Still, we wish him well in his search for a job. And sure his disturbing resemblance to a certain shop owner from Royston Vasey won't be held against him.
And then there's John Grogan, ex-MP who more recently was 'persuaded by friends' to step forward. Grogan was MP for Selby from the Blair landslide until 2010, when boundary changes led to him standing down. During that 13 years, he seems to have done the square root of bugger all, though that he retained the seat in 2005 suggests a good local following. He's a classic modern NuLab illliberal, supporting the Iraq War, strongly supporting ID cards, top up tuition fees, the smoking ban, etc, plus being a strong pro-European (and being an ex-MEP). Currently lives in Burley (so outside the constituency). Interestingly, declared trips to Qatar (useful for a future World Cup), and was Chair of the all-party group on Mongolia (which does provide a small link to the constituency as the one-time home of the Wool Board which had strong links with Mongolia). He also campaigned for more transparency from lobbying companies. Grogan does talk a lot about the separate identities of the towns.
Grogan didn't escape all the expenses furore. He always had expenses in the top 10% in the country, and usually the highest of any MP in Yorkshire (yes, even higher than Ed Balls). To give him credit, his expenses were published by him rather than the Daily telegraph, but, still...he claimed for a tea trolley, a DVD player, and phone and website charges. The biggest expense, though, was the cost of renting a flat in leafy Bayswater, and travel back to the constituency. So £140-160,000 each year probably seems like good value. And, when 'retiring' he received a resettlement allowance (PDF) of £32,383. I assume, should he be elected once more, he will be paying this back.
He also, according to gossip, once confused the Spanish and Portuguese embassies.
And the rank outsider (and not just as the only woman and only Asian on the list, also the only one no longer on twitter) is Councillor Kaneez Akhtar. Not a huge amount to say about her, she appears to be a diligent local councillor for Keighley Central. Works in the Labour Party's client state in social housing. She was short-listed in this constituency (when it had an all-woman shortlist) last time out
Nobody's taking bets on this as far as I'm aware...