THE SUDDEN AND UNEXPECTED RESIGNATION of Copeland MP Jamie Reed, apparently to take up a post at Sellafield, has precipitated a by-election in the largely rural constituency which includes the Sellafield site itself as well as run-down working class towns such as Workington and Whitehaven. Reed is a strong supporter of nuclear energy and resigned his ministerial post when Corbyn won the leadership in 2015. He was careful, however, not to openly criticise Corbyn in his resignation letter.
Copeland CLP has selected Gillian Troughton as the candidate. She holds a number of voluntary roles, including working as a driver for St Johns Ambulance, and trained as an orthopaedic surgeon, before working in Cumbria County Council's children's services department between 1999 and 2011.
An active Remain campaigner during last year's EU referendum, Gillian said: “This election is a choice between allowing the Tories to strip NHS services away from Copeland, and sending them a message that it’s unacceptable. This is my home. I have been part of the campaign against the proposed cuts to A&E and the maternity wing because I know that our community needs this service.”
She is by no means on the left of the Party and her position on nuclear power does not reflect the views of most Momentum supporters. She says: “My husband works in the nuclear supply chain, so I know how important the industry is to thousands of Cumbrians. I’m pro-nuclear, no ifs, no buts. Moorside is a fantastic opportunity. I’ll make sure our community gets what it deserves.”
One issue locally will be the threat from UKIP arising from local prejudice against the EU and immigration. Caroline Richardson, a local Momentum activist, wrote in LabourList: “Copeland voted to leave the EU, possibly in a desire to take back control from the economic elite and political establishment, and as a result UKIP is perceived to be a growing threat in the region. Labour will instead provide a people’s Brexit, which actually takes back control, not hands it over to another economic elite. I believe Labour can, and must, win over Brexit voters, and build an economy that works for the many, not the few.
“We can’t let our constituency go to the Tories. We can’t let UKIP’s divisive and hateful rhetoric take hold. The Labour Party needs to mobilise for a victory in Copeland. Momentum can make a hugely important contribution to this. Let’s get organised and make it happen.”
» To get involved, browse to http://www. copelandlabour.org.uk/events, or phone 07872 417 306. 6