Bean over Britain: Alison McGovern on Tory school cuts, Liverpool FC and what Labour means to her family

Alison McGovern is standing again for election in her home seat of Wirral South, which she has represented since 2010. I chatted to her in the constituency, just overlooking the Mersey and the city of Liverpool.

Why are you standing and what have you got to offer the people of Wirral South in the next parliament?

“This is my home, I have represented Wirral South for seven years. Its the place I was born, I grew up – it means everything to me and my family live here. With that, comes a responsibility to fight for the things we need: whether that’s funding for our schools or regeneration for some of our town centres. I have always fought for those things, with some successes and some more things to do – that’s why I’m standing again.”

How would you describe your politics?

“Labour.”

What does the Labour party mean to you? 

“The Labour Party has created the institutions that have given me and my family every chance. Whether that was the NHS repeatedly saving my dad’s life, or the fact that my granddad grew up in a really poor, pretty grim environment in the docks over there in Liverpool – and in just a couple of generations I was able to go to university and study philosophy and have all of these chances. That was done on the back of institutions that the Labour Party built, so that everybody had the chance to be and do the things they want. That’s why I’m Labour.”

How has Brexit affected the seat?

“Wirral voted to remain, and Merseyside voted to remain, and I think there’s a view here that we are a global port city – there are big manufacturers here with important trade links. I think people feel as though Brexit is going to happen, and we can’t overturn that, [but] we want to influence it –  we need to make sure that people in Merseyside stay employed and all of the chances and freedoms that people have had aren’t impeded or hindered by Brexit.”

What’s the number one issue on the doorstep?

“The Labour Party nationally are in a tricky spot and that hasn’t passed people by.”

“In Wirral South people are pretty frustrated about the Tory government and they want a Labour government that can sort things out for them. They really worry, at the moment, because if you call an ambulance in the Wirral it can be an hour to two hours [to arrive]. That’s not OK. People are very worried, and they want a Labour government.”

Labour faces poor poll ratings nationally so how do you deal with that locally?

“Two things. Firstly, I think people’s identification with our values is strong. So I think when you turn up as a Labour person to talk to somebody about the election, I think they identify with who we are and what we stand for. And the second thing is that people are looking at the Tories’ record in government and have got a lot of questions.”

“Whether that’s what has happened to wages and family incomes under the Tories, or whether that’s what’s now going on in our schools – schools in Wirral are having to sack teachers. People have noticed.”

Do you think Labour receives a fair hearing from the media?

“No, but that’s always true. I reserve the right, as a politician, to be in furious disagreement with a lot of stuff that I see in the newspapers, that’s what it means to exist in a democracy.”

“We’re always going to feel like we don’t get a fair share – that means we have to be really clear on our messages, be really direct with people and have something genuine to offer people.”

When was the last moment you had to relax and how did you spend it?

“I’m really hoping that Liverpool beat Middlesbrough on Sunday, I will feel much more relaxed if we do [Liverpool won 3-0].

To help Labour in Wirral South, and to find campaign events near you, click here.

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