Labour has selected candidates in three more seats. Two of the seats are currently held by Conservative MPs but are considered winnable for Labour. Heywood and Middleton is currently represented by Chris Clarkson, who defeated the Labour incumbent Liz McInnes by 663 votes in 2019. The constituency, in Greater Manchester, had been considered a safe Labour seat. Northampton South is currently represented by Andrew Lewer. First elected in 2017, Lewer retained the seat with a majority of 4697 votes at the 2019 election. Between 1997 and 2005 the seat was held by Labour’s Tony Clarke. The third seat, Stockton North, is currently held by Labour, with the incumbent MP Alan Cunningham having announced that he will retire at the next election. Here’s a quick look at the Labour candidates selected to contest the seats next time round…
Heywood and Middleton
Elsie Blundell has been selected to fight the seat for Labour. Blundell has represented Balderstone and Kirkholt ward on Rochdale borough council since 2019 and has lived in the constituency for “almost a decade”. The day after being re-elected in 2022 she married her fellow newly elected councillor John Blundell. She works in the transport sector. In 2022, she was elected to the National Policy Forum (NPF) as a north west rep.
After being selected, Blundell commented: “I am extremely proud to have been backed by so many Labour members, Councillors and trade unionists in the constituency. It shows we have the movement to win here in Heywood and Middleton. Heywood and Middleton deserves better than this government, After 13 years of the Tories, nothing in this country seems to work anymore. The Tories have broken Britain – and they are too distracted by chaos of their own making to fix it.”
Mike Reader works for the property development company Mace, describing himself as a “passionate advocate for the built environment”. He was on Labour’s future candidates programmed and hosts a podcast about bidding and procurement. Reader’s selection bid had the backing of the Jewish Labour Movement, SME4Labour, the GMB, USDAW, Community, Sera, the Labour Movement for Europe and the Labour Housing Group. He has a record of involvement in the Co-operative party, and is vice chair of the west Northhamptonshire co-operative party branch.
Chris McDonald won a tight selection to succeed Cunningham as Stockton North’s Labour candidate and likely MP. A chemical engineer by trade, McDonald is the CEO of the Materials Processing Institute and has worked in the Teesside steel industry for 20 years, including a period working for Tata steel. MPs Stephen Kinnock, Wes Streeting and Bridget Phillipson congratulated McDonald on his victory, with Kinnock saying he had worked with McDonald on issues relating to the steel industry and that McDonald “will bring huge expertise and experience to parliament”. McDonald was endorsed by Sera, Usdaw, Community, the National Union of Mineworkers, and several local branches of the CWU. He has previously spoken against plans for a coal mine in West Cumbria.
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