With the calling of a snap General Election and the resulting lack of time for the usual candidate selection processes, there are a lot of new faces fighting for Labour in this campaign.
In marginal constituencies, where it’s vital for members from safer seats to support the efforts to win or retain a seat, it’s important to know who you’re campaigning for. The SKWAWKBOX is privileged to have chance to reach significant numbers of Labour supporters and, with luck, beyond them to the wider constituencies Labour needs to win.
In what might turn out to be the first of a series, the SKWAWKBOX had the pleasure of interviewing the Labour PPC (prospective parliamentary candidate) for Weaver Vale in the north-west – Mike Amesbury – to find out more about what makes him tick and why Labour members and supporters should get behind his efforts to dislodge Tory Graham Evans.
SKWAWKBOX: Mike, thanks for making time to talk. Basics first – tell us a little about yourself.
MA: Well, I’ve been a Labour member for 30 years. I’m a union member – both Unison and GMB. I spent a long time working in careers services, getting young people into jobs.
After that, I worked for excellent Labour MP Angela Rayner and then on Andy Burnham’s mayoral campaign – which, as you know, was a great success.
S: Family man?
MA: Absolutely. My wife Amanda – she’s an Everton supporter – and my son Ted, who’s 6.
S: Excellent. Now, you’re from Greater Manchester, but you’re standing in Weaver Vale. Do you have connections with the area?
MA: Strong ones! My wife is from Runcorn, as are all my in-laws. My mother-in-law runs the Clarry [the well-known Clarendon pub in Runcorn].
S: Weaver Vale is a very tight marginal seat on the edge of Labour stronghold Merseyside. It was won by the Tories in 2015 by only 806 votes – but UKIP are not standing a candidate to give the Tories a boost. How do you feel about that?
MA: I don’t think it’s a given that all the UKIP voters will switch to the Tories. There was a reasonable Labour protest vote that switched to UKIP in 2015 and we’re aiming to bring them back to Labour now.
On top of that, the only genuine champions of nurses, doctors, working people are Labour and that couldn’t be clearer to voters.
The Greens are still standing a candidate, which is a shame as I have strong environmental credentials. I’ve campaigned against fracking, for example, and Greater Manchester is a frack-free zone. They’ve got every right to stand, but voting Labour is the only way to vote to get rid of the Tories.
S: For some people, Brexit will be a significant issue in this campaign. Where do you stand on that?
MA: I campaigned for remain. We lost, move on, make it work – but make it work for the working people of Weaver Vale. Protect employment rights, build an economy that works for everyone – don’t just go for the lowest common denominator.
S: How has the campaign been going so far?
MA: We’ve been really lucky to have people coming over to help from Liverpool, Halton, Manchester – 50 or 60 people last weekend – along with support from the trade unions. It’s been fantastic, but I really want to encourage everyone to keep coming, to get stuck in and help us achieve a great win.
S: How are you going about that?
MA: We’re appealing across boundaries and we need to ensure we get our people out. Runcorn was absolutely hammered by the Tories since 2010 so people have got lots of reason to want them out. But it’s not enough to just say you’re vote – you need to seal the deal.
If you want more police, more community officers, better education, you’ve got to get out and vote for it. Some people are quite vulnerable – get out and vote for them, too.
Helsby High School is losing over £700,000. The area’s lost 140 police officers. The Tory MP made a false promise about the new bridge and the toll that’s going to be charged on both bridges when it’s finished. He said George Osborne would give toll-free access to Cheshire West residents – but it hasn’t happened, even though Halton on the other side of the river has done it for their residents. It’s a big doorstep issue and it’s bad for Weaver Vale businesses.
I’m asking people to vote Labour because I will genuinely stand up for everyone in Weaver Vale – which is certainly not like the previous MP.
The SKWAWKBOX encourages anyone who can get to Weaver Vale to help campaign to do so. If you’re able to join in, put a note in the comments and we’ll put you in touch with the local campaign organiser to see how, when and where you can best help the effort to give the people of Weaver Vale the Labour MP they need.
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