In less than a month, the country will go to the polls to vote in Theresa May’s surprise general election. If you’re wondering who you can vote for in Consett (which is part of the North West Durham Constituency), you will have a choice of UKIP, Tory, Labour, Green and Liberal Democrat candidates.
In the 2015 general election, Pat Glass retained the seat for Labour with a whopping 10,056 majority. But with Ms Glass stepping down, how will Labour’s candidate Laura Pidcock fare? Will any other parties have a chance of grabbing what has traditionally been a Labour stronghold?
Read on to learn a little about each candidate and whether anyone has a chance of unseating Labour come June 8th.
Laura Pidcock, Labour
Born and raised in the north east, Laura Pidcock has served as a local councillor and a Labour party activist, trade unionist and campaigner. Ms Pidcock has worked as a mental health support worker and as a manager in the charity sector.
Ms Pidcock, who is a member of Labour’s National Policy Forum, said, “I am proud to be selected as the Labour Candidate for North West Durham in the general election and am determined to be on the doorstep making the case for Labour to local people.”
“Local people need a Labour MP and a Labour government. A Labour MP who will ensure our NHS is given the funding it needs to look after you. Someone who will fight to ensure that our schools have the funding they need to deliver good teaching in every school.”
“Someone who will stand up for local councils against Tory funding cuts, which are damaging services in North West Durham. Someone who makes sure Brexit works for working people.”
— Laura Pidcock (@PidcockNWDurham) May 16, 2017
North West Durham’s former MP Pat Glass said, “I’m delighted that Laura has been selected as the Labour candidate for North West Durham.”
“I know Laura and know that she is a great campaigner who will be a strong voice for local people.”
Though overturning Labour’s 10,000-plus majority will be a huge challenge for the other parties, Labour has had its issues in the north east lately.
In the recent Durham County Council elections, Labour lost 20 seats and Laura Pidcock herself lost her seat on Northumbria County Council to a Tory. There was also some controversy over Pat Glass’s decision to step down over the outcome of the Brexit vote and her resignation as shadow education secretary after just two days in the job.
Sally-Ann Hart, Conservative
The first thing to say here is that, despite a thorough search of the internet, Facebook and Twitter, Consett Magazine has been unable to unearth any information about Ms Hart.
In the 2015 general election, the Conservatives came second in North West Durham, with 10,018 votes or 23.4% of all the votes cast. Overturning Labour’s majority in June would be quite a task, but the Tories are likely to increase their vote share due to the collapse of UKIP support.
An interesting fact about North West Durham is that it was in this constituency, in 1992, that Theresa May first stood for Parliament. She came second, having polled 12,747 votes.
The Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron also stood in North West Durham in the same election, polling 6,728 votes and coming third.
Owen Temple, Liberal Democrats
Owen Temple stood in the North West Durham Constituency in both the 2010 and 2015 general elections. In 2010, he finished second with 10,927 votes, but in 2015 he slipped to fourth behind UKIP and the Tories with just 3,894 votes.
With the polls showing no great upsurge in Lib Dem support, he is unlikely to finish higher than third this year.
Mr Temple is, however, proud of his credentials as the most local candidate. He said, “Party allegiances will understandably drive the decisions of many voters.”
“But I hope that, when people come to vote, they’ll also weigh in the balance a love of, and commitment to, the people who live here.”
“What will do none of them any good is an MP who cares more about their party than the people they are elected to represent.”
“Labour takes us for granted; Conservatives ignore us. Only the Liberal Democrats offer hope.”
Up an running for North West Durham. I may be the only way to elect a genuinely local MP, and the only tried and tested rep for local people pic.twitter.com/lgvRtAvpkn
— Owen Temple (@OwenTemple2) May 9, 2017
Mr Temple stresses that the Liberal Democrats’ commitment to putting a penny on income tax would help fund public services and the NHS.
He said, “The Liberal Democrats are the first major party prepared to be honest with people and say that to secure the future of the NHS we will need to chip in a little more.”
“A penny in the pound would allow us to invest in improving local NHS services, ensuring the elderly receive the care they deserve.”
Owen Temple is a Liberal Democrat county councillor, representing Consett North.
Dominic Horsman, Green Party
Dominic Horsman is a researcher in physics at Durham University and he lives just outside Durham City though his family come from Willington and Crook.
Mr Horsman said he joined the Green Party because “we need to think big about how we do jobs, education, housing and democracy.”
He has been involved in the UCU trade union and was recently on a picket line protesting against spending cuts and zero-hours contracts.
Honoured to be standing for parliament in Durham North West for @TheGreenParty. If there’s ever a time to stand up and be involved it’s now.
— Dominic Horsman (@qudit) May 10, 2017
Mr Horsman said, “I’ve never stood for election before! I’m standing because we need a real choice in this election.”
“I am a green socialist and I care about solidarity with people, solidarity with the planet, and people having a final say over their lives.”
Alan Breeze, UKIP
In the last general election, UKIP finished third in North West Durham with 7,265 votes or 17% of votes cast.
County Durham also voted overwhelmingly to leave the EU in June, but – with UKIP struggling with internal divisions and Theresa May attracting UKIP voters with her hard Brexit stance – the party is unlikely to match their 2015 tally this time round.
Despite giving the web a good scouring, Consett Magazine was unable to find any information on Alan Breeze for this article.
So does anyone have a hope of beating Labour?
The latest national polls suggest that Labour’s core vote is remaining steady. What is happening, however, is that – with UKIP in disarray – UKIP voters are switching to the Tories.
Some of these are former Labour supporters who have never voted Conservative previously. It seems that their period backing UKIP has acted as a ‘gateway drug’ that has tempted them to consider voting for a Theresa-May-led Tory Party that appears keen on hard Brexit.
In certain seats – including some in the north east – the core Conservative vote combined with the former UKIP vote could see Tory challengers gaining enough votes to oust the sitting Labour MP.
Could the unthinkable happen and Consett – a town built on coal and steel with strong Labour Party and trade union traditions – elect a Conservative?
If we look at the figures from the 2015 election, Labour got just over 20,000 votes, the Tories just over 10,000 and UKIP around 7,250. So, if we add the Tory and UKIP votes together, Labour still would have a majority of 2,750.
This is perhaps a crude calculation. There are many factors involved in elections, polls are often wrong and politics across the world is increasingly unpredictable. Maybe a lot of Labour voters will stay home. Perhaps a lot of Consett’s former UKIP supporters will never manage to bring themselves to vote Tory.
It seems pretty likely, however, that on June 9th North West Durham’s new MP will be Labour’s Laura Pidcock, though the Tories may run her a little closer than she would like.
(Featured image courtesy of secretlondon123)