James Frith selected as Labour parliamentary candidate for Bury North

Katie Neame

Local members in Bury North have selected former Labour MP James Frith as the party’s candidate to contest the seat at the next general election.

Frith – who represented Bury North from 2017 to 2019 – received 152 votes from members, while 26 backed Rossendale Borough councillor Samara Barnes on Tuesday. Barnes was the only other person to make the shortlist.

After the result was declared, the former Labour MP said: “It is such an honour to have been selected as the parliamentary candidate for Bury North. Bury is my family’s hometown, and so I am humbled and extremely proud to have been backed by so many Labour members, councillors, unions and affiliates.

“It shows that we have the movement to win here in Bury North. Bury deserves better than this government and the current MP interested in their own survival only. Boris Johnson’s government might be ending, but the rot goes right through the Conservative Party.

“James Daly stood by him repeatedly, despite them lurching from one crisis to the next, despite the lies, despite the erosion of standards in public life. A general election can’t come soon enough.”

Bury North was the most marginal seat in England at the last general election, with Frith losing his seat to Conservative candidate Daly by just 105 votes. It was one of 14 Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) that the national executive committee agreed could begin the candidate selection process early.

Frith served on Bury council from 2011 to 2015 before standing as the parliamentary candidate for Bury North at the 2015 general election. At that election, he was defeated by Tory incumbent David Nuttall by just 378 votes.

Speaking to the Young Fabians ahead of the 2015 election, Frith said: “I think [Tony Blair] did more for ordinary people and families than any government since and I think the challenge is to achieve more than he did. Until we do that we’d be ill-advised to overlook his success.”

Frith gained Bury North from Nuttall in 2017 with a comparatively large majority for the seat – traditionally viewed as a bellwether – of 4,375 votes.

During his time in parliament, Frith worked with MPs from all parties to help to secure NHS funding for cystic fibrosis treatment. He also campaigned for a review of special educational needs support in mainstream schools and served on the education committee.

Speaking to The House magazine ahead of the selection meeting, Frith said: “Politics is often the cause of a great many injustices, but it is also always the answer.”

He added: “To have the chance, with great humility, to represent my family’s hometown in parliament was a huge privilege and something I feel determined to do again. I was somewhat interrupted previously.”

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