A former leader of a Yorkshire council has been selected by Labour activists to fight a by-election caused by the resignation of Matt Pennycook, who left Greenwich Council last week to concentrate on the general election.
Mehboob Khan, who led Kirklees Council until last year, will contest Greenwich West on 7 May, the same day Pennycook hopes to be elected MP for Greenwich & Woolwich.
Khan quit his post as council leader last year when he moved to the capital to take up a job as political advisor at the Local Government Association.
But despite living in Deptford’s Millennium Quay, he remained a councillor for Huddersfield’s Greenhead ward. He revealed his decision to leave last Monday – the same day Pennycook announced his resignation.
Khan was lauded as the “Twitter king” of Yorkshire politics last year by the Huddersfield Daily Examiner for having more followers than other council leaders.
But his adventures on social media in London haven’t always been such a hit – getting criticised last year for amending someone’s tweet praising the Tall Ships Festival so it namechecked Greenwich leader Denise Hyland.
He may also want to amend his Twitter handle – while he is still listed as a Kirklees councillor, continuing to use @cllrMehboobKhan could get him in hot water in London. (9.55am update: After initially changing it to the arguably-presumptuous @MehboobKhanRBG, then @MehboobKhan99, it’s now @MKhanGreenwich.)
Labour romped home at the last election and he’ll be the runaway favourite to win. But opponents eyeing an upset will include Conservative campaigner Thomas Turrell and Green Party stalwart Robin Stott.
It’s also understood that left-wing group People Before Profit, best-known for strong performances in Lewisham Council elections, are considering fielding a candidate, which would be their first on the Greenwich side of the border.
Friday update: The Liberal Democrats have chosen Sonia Dunlop to contest the seat.