Roger Godsiff: Labour MP faces reselection battle amid backlash over stance on LGBT+ education

Birmingham MP is the third Labour politician to be 'triggered' by activists

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 02 October 2019 14:03
Roger Godsiff, Labour MP for BIrmingham Hall Green, says protesters have a 'just cause'
Roger Godsiff, Labour MP for BIrmingham Hall Green, says protesters have a 'just cause'

Veteran MP Roger Godsiff has become the third Labour politician to face a battle for his seat after activists voted to trigger a reselection ballot.

Labour members in Birmingham Hall Green voted against automatically choosing Mr Godsiff as their next parliamentary candidate, paving the way for an open contest in the constituency.

Mr Godsiff has come under pressure over his stance on LGBT+ education after he gave his backing to demonstrators outside a Birmingham primary school, who oppose lessons for young children on same-sex relationships.

It comes after Hull North MP Diana Johnson became the first parliamentarian to face a reselection vote - where the incumbent is given an automatic space on the ballot paper against any rival candidates

Margaret Hodge, one of the party's most senior Jewish MPs, also faces a battle for her seat in Barking, where she has served as an MP for 25 years.

Changes to the party rulebook approved by Labour conference last year made it easier for grassroots members to unseat sitting MPs, by reducing the threshold for a so-called trigger ballot from 50 per cent to 33 per cent of local branches and affiliated unions.

Mr Godsiff now faces a fight for his political career after two of his four local branches voted overwhelmingly for an open selection at meetings this week. He did not responded to requests for comment.

The 73-year-old came under fire from his own party for telling protesters at Anderton Park school they had a “just cause” and vowing to "continue to try and fight your corner because you’re right".

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner reported him to the party's chief whip Nick Brown, saying his view "do not represent the Labour Party and are discriminatory and irresponsible".

A petition calling for Mr Godsiff to be "deselected" also gained more than 3,000 signatures.

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In a letter to party activists, published by the Birmingham Mail, Mr Godsiff denied he was homophobic and said his views had been "deliberately misrepresented and misinterpreted".

He said: "Unfortunately, some groups and individuals have deliberately misrepresented and misinterpreted my views and labelled myself, parents and anybody else who supports the 'age appropriate' ministerial guidance as homophobic and have pursued a campaign of character assassination through social media.

"I cannot do anything about that, but I make no apology for supporting the rights of parents and while I have a great deal of respect for teachers, who have extremely demanding jobs, I do not accept that anyone of us are infallible and always right."

Mr Godsiff voted Leave during the referendum but said he had since voted in line with his pro-Remain constituency.

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “Under longstanding party rules, reselection processes have to be held in between general elections.

"This has happened before every general election since 2001, apart from the 2017 snap election."

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