Tameside’s MPs have been reacting to yesterday’s shock announcement by Theresa May, that the country will go to the polls on June 8th for a snap general election.
The Prime Minister’s statement took everyone by surprise, not least because she’d previously claimed on numerous occasions that she wouldn’t call an election, but by the end of the day, all three of Tameside’s MPs announced they would be standing for re-election.
Ashton MP Angela Rayner only became an MP two years ago, with a majority of over 10,000, but has quickly rose through the Labour ranks to become Shadow Education Secretary. A staunch Jeremy Corbyn supporter, Rayner was quick to welcome Theresa May’s announcement with a series of tweets.
She said: “We welcome the announcement on the General Election. This government has been a disaster for the vast majority of people who have suffered so much. This government does not have a mandate and is failing our country. The agenda of austerity has failed and it is time to invest and rebuild. The government is pushing for a hard Brexit that people did not vote for. We need a clear vision for this country that has been voted for by the people.”
Stalybridge & Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds has been in the post since 2010 after being voted in with a slim majority of 2,744. However, that majority was increased in 2015 to 6,686.
Reynolds has not always seen eye-to-eye with Jeremy Corbyn, resigning from his position as Shadow Rail Minister in January 2016 in solidarity with his colleague Pat McFadden and he also criticised the Stop the War coalition, an organisation Corbyn used to Chair. However, following Corbyn’s re-election as Labour leader, Reynolds was made Shadow City Minister.
In a lengthy Facebook post yesterday, he criticised Theresa May’s decision to call the election, saying she had “nakedly put her own interest ahead of the national interest” although he did add, “this is a poor Government and I welcome the chance to make the case against it.”
Reynolds outlined his achievements in the post. “I am also very proud of my local campaigning work as our MP,” it read. “We have seen real progress made towards sorting out the congestion in Longdendale, with electrification of the trans-pennine rail line, and at Tameside Hospital after we demanded the resignation of the former Chief Executive.
“I relish using my position in Parliament to raise local matters, from individual pieces of casework to support for manufacturing jobs, the armed forces, and special educational needs, especially autism. I also take very seriously the duty of being an ambassador for our area, be it at important occasions like Remembrance Sunday or when we face difficult moments in the national spotlight, such as the terrible police murders in Mottram.”
However, it is worth noting that Reynolds’ position on the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework has put him at odds with a lot of his constituents who are fighting to protect their green spaces.
Andrew Gwynne, MP for Denton & Reddish, faces a busier fifty days than most. He became Chair of Labour’s Campaigns and Elections team in February and will be at the forefront of Labour’s campaign.
However, after a humiliating defeat for Labour in the Copeland by-election, Gwynne is looking to bounce back by leading Andy Burnham’s campaign to become the first Mayor of Greater Manchester. It remains to be seen if Gwynne will look to balance the roles, or if he will focus on the national campaign.
Gwynne has been the MP for the area he grew up in for over a decade, having first been elected in 2005 and in all three general elections ran, he has never had a majority below 9,000.
He also welcomed the election, saying Labour will be looking to deliver where the Conservatives have failed. In a statement, he said: ““Labour welcomes the Prime Minister’s decision to give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority of the country first.
“We’ll be offering an alternative to Theresa May’s programme that has failed to rebuild the economy, delivered falling living standards and has left our schools and NHS on the brink of collapse.
“The choice is simple: political and economic chaos under the Tories, or a Labour led society that works for the best possible deal for the people of Denton and Reddish in the aftermath of our exit from the EU.
“I look forward to showing how Labour will stand up for the people of Britain – it’s time for a Labour Government to fix the problems that the Tories have created.”
In these early stages, when campaigning has yet to really begin, all three Labour MPs would appear safe, although other parties have yet to name any candidates. The local Conservative party are holding a meeting next week where it’s thought their candidates will be selected. Denton & Reddish has always been a Labour seat, Ashton has been Labour since before the Second World War and they have held Stalybridge & Hyde since 1945.
However, doubts over Jeremy Corbyn’s ability as Labour leader have left his party with a huge deficit in the polls, that have a recent history of under-estimating the Conservative vote. While Labour are likely to hold all three Tameside seats, they could see their majorities fall, and their party suffer nationally.