A RELATIVE political unknown has emerged as red-hot favourite to succeed David Miliband as the next MP for South Shields.
The Labour Party locally has rallied in support of Coun Mark Walsh, representative for the town’s Horsley Hill ward - after council leader Iain Malcolm decided not to seek his party’s nomination.
Coun Walsh’s first big challenge will come tomorrow when he will come before his party’s National Executive Committee in London.
But if he can win a place on the party’s short-list he stands a great chance of being selected when members of South Shields Constituency Labour Party meet next Wednesday night at the town’s Customs House.
Coun Walsh, 46, who lives in Mortimer Road, South Shields, with his wife Anne, a Labour councillor for Biddick Hall, admitted it was a “bit of a surprise” to be approached to seek the nomination.
He said: “It’s early days. If I get through the interview process in London then it’s on to the hustings with my peers next Wednesday. It will be their choice at the end of
Coun Walsh was raised in the town’s Lincoln Road and attended Redwell School, South Tyneside College and Northumbria University.
Previously he worked for Newcastle City Council and was based in the West End offering help, support and advice to tenants on welfare rights and debt management.
He is currently a customer service manager with Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust.
First elected to represent Cleadon Park on South Tyneside Council in 1996 he won the Horsley Hill ward at last year’s local elections.
A keen runner he has completed several Great North Runs and the London and Edinburgh marathons.
Coun Walsh added: “The message loud and clear is that the party wants a local candidate. It would be a great honour to be that candidate.”