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FEATURE Andrew Gwynne on what it means to be a local MP
Wednesday 12th October 2016 @ 21:54 by Adam Higgins
Community Denton & Audenshaw Features

Andrew was speaking to Daniel Willis, a third-year journalism student from the University of Salford who lives in Gorton. 

“I’m driven by a strong sense of social justice. It’s a core of what the Labour Party stands for, and what we do as MPs.”

Those were the words of Labour MP for Denton and Reddish, Andrew Gwynne.

Gwynne has been the MP for the Denton and Reddish Constituency since 2005.

A part of the Greater Manchester area, Denton and Reddish has been a consistent Labour stronghold since just after the Second World War.

With 11 years under his belt, one key question surrounded the differences Andrew has seen in Denton and Reddish since he took office.

“Physically a lot has remained the same, but a lot has changed too,” he said.

“We’ve got the new shopping centre in Crown Point North, Denton Community College has been opened and of course, a lot of new housing developments have taken shape over time.”

Fundamentally, however, the heart of Denton and Reddish has stayed the same.

After taking over from his 31-year serving predecessor, Andrew Bennett, in the 2005 General Election – Gwynne promised to serve the town he grew up in to the best of his ability.

Predominantly, Greater Manchester has been known to be one of, if not the, safest Labour area.

The core vote, which Labour has maintained over half a century, has regularly been contested, but to no avail.

But Gwynne suggested that, to an extent, a lot of voters don’t necessarily vote out of habit – but in relation to their local constituency MPs.

He said: “I’d like to think that in an area as such as Denton and Reddish there’s now a substantial number of people who are not naturally inclined to vote for a party.

“They’ll mainly vote based on whether you can get the job done.

“I know people who wouldn’t normally vote Labour go out of their way to tell me they’re voting Labour locally because of my efforts.

“If you can engage with people in a positive way, they feel like they know you – and most importantly they feel like they can trust you.”

The life of an MP has been put into question, largely since the infamous Expenses Scandal back in 2009.

But as Gwynne admitted himself, to be a successful, trustworthy MP you just have to do as good a job as you can in keeping your local constituency updated, with regular uss of social media key to getting his message out.

“I’ve noticed that with social media I’m reaching out to people in my constituency who may not read local newspapers or have a keen interest in politics,” he commented.

“But they see the work I’m doing and comment on my posts and feel like they know me.

“Some of them will stop me in the street like we’re the best of friends, and it’s only when they tell me they follow me on Facebook and I follow them back that I realise who they are!”

Like many other authoritative figures, Gwynne has realised the huge power through which social media can have in forming opinions and bringing a community together.

One thing that the Labour MP believes is that nothing should be taken for granted in politics at national level.

The complete whitewash in Labour in Scotland can be put down to various factors – but most noticeably the rise of Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish National Party, and the lack of support for current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Almost baffled, he said: “If you would have told me that Labour would have been completely wiped out north of the border in Scotland I never would have believed you!”

Alongside his local constituency, Gwynne has firmly got behind his fellow MP and friend Andy Burnham, who will be Labour’s candidate in the upcoming Manchester Mayoral Elections in 2017.

He added: “I was sold on Andy’s vision for Greater Manchester – which is getting the best possible deal for our city.

“For us to be distinctive and proud of our Northern heritage, we’ve got a great future ahead of us and we should be proud of that.

“It’s about how we can marry economic brilliance with social justice, that’s really where the devolution can get really exciting.

“Andy will have the opportunity of controlling transport, jobs, health and so on – it’s how we can build a Manchester for future generations to be proud of.”

The rich history of the Labour Party can sometimes be understated, but for Gwynne, who has been a Labour supporter since he was a small boy, the party stands for social justice and a fair and just society.

“Whether you’re working class or middle class, aspiration is classless, we want our kids to do better than ourselves,” he said passionately.

“The Labour Party wants to create a country which champions people with big aspirations.”

The leadership of the Labour Party may still be questionable on a national level despite Corbyn’s unanimous vote over fellow candidate Owen Smith.

But MPs like Gwynne are providing a positive outlook for the future of politics – and with DevoManc just round the corner, the future is looking bright for Greater Manchester.