We have had a busy few days here in the Copeland by-election campaign. Across this enormous constituency that stretches from Keswick in the north-east, across fells and lakes to the port of Whitehaven, and then down the coast past St Bees and Sellafield, all the way down to Millom in the South, and then back up across Eskdale and Wasdale including the majesty of Scafell Pike, the highest peak in England, the Lib Dem fightback has been in action.
Our excellent candidate Rebecca Hanson has grabbed the moment; demonstrating to local, regional and national media her deep knowledge of key local issues. The threat that the Tories’ hard Brexit brings to a range of industries; nuclear, hospitality, and farming. The problems of the NHS, not just the winter crisis experienced across the country, but also the so called ‘success regime’ – NHS reorganisation in West Cumbria – which could force women in labour to travel for more than 90 minutes to get to a maternity unit. As a former teacher and teacher-trainer Rebecca understands the life opportunities provided by good education in all schools. She has been campaigning alongside parents at Whitehaven school for more than a year, demanding action from the Government to replace the failing academy sponsor at Whitehaven Academy.
This seat has been Labour for the past 82 years. Yet on the streets we hear again and again repeated criticism of public services and the actions and inactions of Copeland District Council. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour are no longer the natural choice of these disaffected voters. They are yearning for a credible new choice. UKIP are doing little here, their efforts diverted to Stoke to support Paul Nuttall’s attempts to come a poor third… Which leaves Theresa May’s hard Brexit Tories – this shouldn’t be their seat. Across the villages and farms of Copeland and Allerdale Lib Dem volunteers have gone out into areas which haven’t seen a Focus for a decade or more, and engaged local voters reminding them of the damaging effects of a hard Brexit, and that a Conservative victory would not be good for this constituency and the public services upon which local people depend.
On Monday, Rebecca welcomed former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey to answer questions on Lib Dem energy policy. Ed reminded the audience of the central role electricity generated by nuclear fission plays in meeting the Government’s international climate change commitments to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels, and the importance of investment in the next generation of nuclear power stations in the area.
Tim Farron joined Rebecca on Tuesday to listen to the concerns of the Keswick flood action group. To prevent a recurrence of the disastrous flooding that accompanied Storm Desmond they propose relatively low cost changes at Thirlmere Dam. He then went on to meet volunteers at Lib Dem HQ and speak to regional TV.
Wednesday saw Rebecca at Whitehaven harbour doing back-to-back TV interviews for national TV. It is clear from speaking to the journalists that they are impressed with Rebecca as a candidate, and believe that the Liberal Democrats are making up ground in this constituency.
We’ve got leaflets out across the constituency and the postal vote phoning has gone well.
What we need now is YOU!
We have a final weekend tabloid that will only get delivered if you come to Copeland.
We are based in Keswick, but with your help this weekend we will be out delivering up and down the length and breadth of this constituency. If you enjoy your time with us this weekend, why not stay for the final four days and help support Rebecca Hanson in her campaign to secure a great result for the Liberal Democrats.
* Andy Sangar is a councillor in Sheffield and the Liberal Democrat agent for the Copeland by-election