The leading trade unionist picked to become Labour’s candidate in Erdington has insisted he has the support of his local party - and will not hesitate to stand up to the Government, even if that includes his wife, Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman.
Jack Dromey, who has been chosen to fight the safe Labour seat, denied claims he had been “parachuted” in against the wishes of local activists.
Although born and raised in London as the son of Irish immigrants, he insisted he had close links with Birmingham after fighting alongside workers in the automotive sector and elsewhere, in his long career as a trade unionist.
He has been Deputy General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union since 2003.
And he insisted that he would live in the constituency if elected - even though his wife lives in Peckham, London, where she is the local MP.
It follows a high-profile battle to find a candidate to replace outgoing MP Sion Simon, who is quitting to concentrate on his campaign to become mayor of Birmingham.
City councillor Mike Sharpe (Lab Tyburn) spoke out during the contest, saying: “I am against anyone coming in from London or elsewhere, no matter how important they are.”
And some commentators claimed Ms Harman, a member of the Cabinet as Leader of the Commons, had effectively handed her husband a safe seat.
But Mr Dromey said: “I’m somebody with a track record of fighting great battles for 25 years in Birmingham, and who has strong support in the constituency.
“There was no question of being parachuted in.”
He was actually approached about standing by city councillors, he said. “I immediately said yes.”
He added: “I have many friends in the constituency who had been with me on many of the great battles we have fought. Some we have won and others, tragically, we have lost, including the battle to save Rover.”
Mr Dromey said his experience as a union organiser would help him campaign for his constituency, which includes the under-threat Jaguar car plant in Castle Bromwich, and for Birmingham’s manufacturing base in general.
“My first task will be to win the battle for the future of Cadbury. My second will be to secure the future of the Jaguar factory in Birmingham.
“My third is to fight against those 2,000 job cuts planned by the city council.”
If he succeeds in defending Labour’s 9,962 majority in Erdington, Mr Dromey is likely to be a backbench MP while his wife, Harriet Harman, plays a senior role on Labour’s front bench and possibly in Government.
Mr Dromey insisted: “Anyone who knows me knows that I fight for the people I represent. I am not an establishment figure.”
If Labour won the next election and remained in Government, he would not hesitate to challenge it if needed, he said.
“When the Government gets it wrong, I will tell it. I have supported this Government, but if it doesn’t listen, if I have to take it on, that’s what I’ll do.”