Heywood and Middleton candidates make pitch to voters ahead of election
Date published: 27 November 2019
Heywood and Middleton candidates
Voters in Heywood and Middleton are preparing to go to the polls for the first winter election in nearly 100 years.
Created in 1983, the constituency has largely been a Labour stronghold ever since – apart from a severe wobble in the 2014 by-election, when UKIP came with a few hundred votes of taking it.
Incumbent Liz McInnes has since increased her majority in 2015 and 2017, but that close shave five years ago means that despite her current 8,000 majority, the Brexit Party candidate Colin Lambert – ex-leader of Rochdale council – will be eyeing it up.
The Rochdale borough, in which Heywood and Middleton sits, voted 60% leave in the referendum and as the Tories look to take northern seats that have not traditionally voted Conservative, Boris Johnson is likely to make the seat a target too.
Chris Clarkson, who came second with 38% of the vote in 2017, will hope he will be able to scoop up disaffected Labour leavers.
But while Labour may fear a Brexiteer backlash, they will also hope that – in the absence of an electoral pact – the pro-leave vote will then be split.
The pro-remain Liberal Democrats will be represented by Anthony Smith, who ran for the party at the 2014 by-election, and currently sits on Kirklees Council.
And elsewhere the Greens Nigel Ainsworth-Barnes will hope Rochdale Council’s declaration of a climate emergency could put environmental issues at the forefront of people’s minds.
Below, the candidates put their pitch to voters as the election date of December 12 approaches.
Nigel Ainsworth-Barnes (Green Party) - A resident of Middleton where he works as a special education needs teacher teaching young people from across the borough.
“I attended the University of Kent completing a degree in history and philosophy as a mature student after leaving school at 16 and working for Royal Mail for several years.
“The environmental emergency is the most important issue facing us all at this election and now is the time to vote Green so we can bring about a New Green Deal for housing, transport, industry, farming and forestry.
“I will stand up for the issues that have the greatest impact on local people’s lives, working to improve the particularly poor public transport, fragmented bus services and poor train links.
“We also need to protect our greenbelt whilst building high quality social housing for those most in need.”
Chris Clarkson (Conservatives) - A 37-year-old consultant for the Virgin group, based in Manchester.
“If I’m fortunate enough to be your MP on December 13, I promise to do the following:
1. Get Brexit Done. People are fed up of politicians playing games.
2. Tackle crime and anti-social behaviour by pushing for more police with greater powers.
3. Work to deliver good-quality affordable homes locally, built on brownfield first.
4. Bring jobs and investment to our towns so that people don’t have to move to get a job.
5. Improve transport links by working with TfGM so that public transport is efficient and affordable.
6. Boost local schools by voting for £14billion extra funding so that our kids get the best possible start.
7. Work with Veterans’ groups and the new Veterans’ Minister to make sure those who have served this country get the support and protection they have earned.
“For the first time ever, major polls predict that Heywood & Middleton could elect a Conservative MP and if that’s me, I promise to deliver what you voted for in 2016.”
Colin Lambert (Brexit Party) - A former Labour council leader standing for Nigel Farage’s pro-leave party.
“I am proud to be your local Brexit Party candidate for the General Election. I have lived and worked in the constituency for most of my life.
“As a parent and a teacher, I have never been so concerned about the state that our democracy is in and have lost trust in current politics. Just like 61% of residents in Heywood and Middleton, I voted to leave the EU in 2016.
“I believe Brexit is the only way to give us back control over our laws, borders and economy.
“For many years Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have failed our local community. If you elect me as your MP I will listen, respect and fight for the issues you have told me concern you.
“Together we will renew local industry, our high streets and bring good jobs; we will restore standards in our schools; we will fund and rebuild the NHS to restore it to a service that we can be proud of.”
Liz McInnes (Labour) - Heywood and Middleton’s MP since 2014 now seeking election for the fourth time.
“Labour is offering a positive and ambitious plan for the future of this country. After 10 years of damaging Tory cuts, we can’t afford another five.
“This is the most important election in a generation. A Labour government will reinvest in our NHS, police and education, the creation of affordable housing for all, urgent action on the climate emergency, protection for pensioners and help for working families.
“The Tories have mismanaged Brexit. Labour have a workable solution that will answer the Brexit problem, renegotiate a sensible deal and let the people have the final say.
“I’ve represented Heywood and Middleton since 2014 and fought on issues that matter to people – whether that’s fighting for a fair deal for WASPI, protecting free TV Licences for pensioners, opposing cuts to local NHS and police services or campaigning to end the leasehold scandal.
“It’s time for real change, vote Labour on December 12.”
Anthony Smith (Liberal Democrats) - Rochdale-born candidate who has lived in the area most of his life.
“I care deeply about the area; residents of Heywood and Middleton deserve to be represented by someone who understands the area and will work tirelessly to ensure that the area gets the resources it needs and local voices are heard.
“I am proud to be a Liberal Democrat and to have been selected to stand in Heywood and Middleton.
“The two old parties have failed Britain and it’s time for a change. A vote for the Liberal Democrats in this election is a vote to Stop Brexit and get on with the job of building a brighter future.
“If elected, I promise to work hard and stand up for Heywood and Middleton. I will open an office that operates seven days a week to help local people and make myself available to residents as a constituency focused Member of Parliament.”
Nick Statham, Local Democracy Reporter
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