The Copeland By-Election is possibly the biggest challenge the Labour Party has faced in recent times. If the party is going to regain the trust of the general public then this by-election is the biggest opportunity to show that we can come together as the broad church that has been our biggest strength in the past, and that we can campaign on fundamental Labour values and policies. It is this, and the fact it is very close to where I grew up that I have submitted my application to be the Labour Candidate and next Labour MP.
So, I’m thinking there will be some initial questions, so I figured a post outlining some of my thinking would be useful and if you want to know more, get in touch:
I think that for the local residents, with the cuts to the local NHS services being driven through West Cumberland hospital and Keswick Community hospital, they are facing the brutal truth of what a Tory government means. The location is also key here too: many political organisations are so very London-centric that they forget just what it means to live in the North. The beauty of the Lake District can also make for significant living issues when infrastructure fails and always seems to be low on the list to be dealt with.
This is a key election for the future of the Labour Party too. We have spent a lot of time being inward looking and this is a huge opportunity to stop looking inwards and yoke our strengths together to defend our seat to send two messages. Firstly, to the rest of the party that we are strongest when we work together focused on delivering fundamental Labour Values. Secondly, to the Tories and Teresa May, that Cumbrians do not agree with her cuts to local services and that northern constituencies should not be ignored.
I think I am the right person to bring the party together to make sure we retain this seat and send those positive messages!
It is not that much of a secret that I was born and grew up in Cumbria. I am originally from Silloth and grew up there until joining the military and subsequent career in the defence industry meant moving around the country to follow the work. My family still live in Cumbria and we are regularly voyagers up the M6. This, for me, would be a return home bringing with me my family and my experiences. Though it is fair to say I’m somewhat dreading the childhood photos that are bound to be pulled out as a result of this.
What experience have you got?
I am currently a County Councillor and deputy leader of Gloucestershire Labour Group. I stood as a candidate for the Police and Crime Commissioner and have developed, led and worked on a broad range of campaigns from local and general elections to specific issues such as firefighter pensions, infrastructure issues and local magistrates courts closures.
I also have the experience in working for large industry, as well as founding and running my own business. This means I have a good understanding of the reliance of local industry working together, depending on each other to be successful.
What are the issues?
I think that on the surface, the main issues are stopping the cuts to the services at the hospitals, delivering a Brexit that works and driving the local economy, both the industrial, tourism and rural sides that have so much capability.
All Labour candidates will be highlighting these key issues, and quite right too. They speak to why we are all members of the Labour Party, they are issues that are founded in our democratic socialist principles. I think there is a greater underpinning issue that we need to engage with, and that is the electability of party representatives and that each individual member is important, not just the leader or London elite.
Are you a Career Politician?
It wasn’t too long ago that I got called a politician for the first time, and it has taken a while to accept it. However, my career has been spent in science and engineering: my background, education and jobs have all been around that. Even as recently as May, during the Police and Crime Commissioner election, when I was asked if I wanted to be an MP, my answer was no. By the same token, if you told me 6 years ago that I would now be involved in politics as a County Councillor, I would not have believe you. In fact, it wasn’t until this by-election came up, that the combination of constituency and circumstances have inspired in me the drive to be selected and represent Copeland.
If you have a question, please comment below or email [email protected] and I will answer it.