Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting BWNNEWS to 80360 or email us »
Plea to ex-spin doctor over axed councillor
9:00am Wednesday 22nd February 2012 in Basildon news
FORMER New Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell could intervene in a row between the regional and local parties over a councillor’s deselection.
David Kirkman, 27, claims the regional party has stopped him fighting to retain his Fryerns seat, in Pitsea, at May’s local elections because of a mental health episode he suffered.
Mr Kirkman appealed to Labour’s East of England regional office, but lost, with Adel Brown, from Billericay, put in place to fight for the seat.
The Basildon party, who want Mr Kirkman reinstated, contacted Mr Campbell because Tony Blair’s former top man has previously suffered mental health problems.
The official line is Mr Kirkman was not endorsed because of “poor” public speaking and casework and his understanding of the council.
But Mr Kirkman and colleagues were convinced it was down to an episode of mental health problems he faced while a councillor.
He said: “It was dealt with by myself and medical professionals and I am now OK. I do not know who informed the regional party about it, but I have, unofficially, been made aware they know about it.
“They said it was about casework. But at my appeal I gave numerous examples of successful casework.”
Phil Rackley, Basildon Labour group deputy leader, said the decision was taken by “individuals who seem to believe people with disabilities should, because of these disabilities, be barred from seeking public office”.
The local party has even set up a Facebook group, Justice for David Kirkman, in a bid to gain support .
Mr Campbell said he was not yet involved and would wait to get all the facts. He said: “If a Labour representative were effectively disqualified on grounds of an episode of mental ill-health, I would be concerned and would be pleased to take it up with senior figures.”
A spokesman for the East of England Labour Party said: “Following the regular selection procedures, unfortunately David Kirkham was not selected to stand as a candidate in May’s elections.’’