Stage set for contest for next Heeley MP

Girls are being encouraged to consider a career in engineering, science and technology.
Girls are being encouraged to consider a career in engineering, science and technology.

The decision by Heeley Labour MP Meg Munn to stand down at the next general election is expected to spark a surge of interest from would-be replacements.

It will also raise the question of whether the national party will indicate its preference for an all-women shortlist for the Sheffield constituency.

The party is using positive discrimination to try to break the domination of male MPs, looking at each constituency on a case by case basis as vacancies arise

Labour took Heeley from the Conservatives in 1974, and have held it since. Ms Munn’s majority over the Liberal Democrats in 2010 was 5,807.

Although no timetable has been set for finding a replacement candidate, the eight week process is likely to begin relatively quickly, with the general election likely in May next year.

Heeley Constituency Labour Party will decide a shortlist - and it will not be short of names. A Labour source said: “There will be dozens of people from around the country including the possibility of some ex-MPs.”

There is also likely to be interest from local politicians. Names being speculated upon this week include Sheffield cabinet members Jack Scott, whose Arbourthorne ward is in Heeley and who stood in Hallam at the last general election, Leigh Bramall and Isobel Bowler. The possibility of interest from councillor Ian Saunders and former councillor Gillian Furniss was also being mooted.

Despite its Labour background, the Liberal Democrats are pointing to a 7% swing to them at the last general election, and will be fielding the same candidate, Simon Clement-Jones.

Meg Munn will have been an MP for 14 years. She believed the time was right “to use her experience and energy to take on new challenges”.

It was not an easy decision, “but I am confident it is the right one – for me, the party and the constituency”.

She looked back “with satisfaction on achievements I was centrally involved in, such as achieving change to gender neutral language in our legislation, allowing unmarried couples in stable relationships to adopt, introducing civil partnerships when I was Minister for Women and Equality and helping constituents with problems great and small”.

Once a junior minister in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, she currently chairs the Kurdistan Region of Iraq All-Party Parliamentary Group. She also works with organisations to encourage more girls and young women to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and maths.