Could Rebecca Hanson be fighting a long game in Copeland?

It was great to see Cumbrian Councillor, health and education campaigner and erstwhile Liberal Democrat Voice contributor Rebecca Hanson selected as our candidate for the Copeland by-election.

Rebecca  has built a career as a teacher, lecturer and education advisor. She grew up in a deprived area of Newcastle and went on to study at Cambridge University. She is passionate about educational policy and ensuring no child is left behind.

Labour, for some reason, seems to be putting the word out that the by-election won’t take place until May 4th, the same day as the county elections.

I guess they think that Jeremy Corbyn has had such a fantastic week, they just want to let him bask in the admiration of the public for a while.

If that’s the case, then it’s definitely worth a trip to Cumbria to help Rebecca.

She said, on her selection:

This by-election is a chance for people to send a strong message against a hard Brexit that damages local jobs by pulling Britain out of the Single Market.

It’s also an opportunity to reject this Conservative government’s underfunding of our NHS and say no to plans to move vital services like maternity and A&E from West Cumberland Hospital to Carlisle.

I am passionate about standing up for West Cumbria, and recognise the vital role that the nuclear industry plays in our local economy.

I’m proud to have been selected as the candidate for the Liberal Democrats, the only party fighting to protect the economy by staying in the Single Market and calling for a long-term solution to the crisis facing the NHS.

The Cumbrian Lib Dems are a formidable campaigning force. Tim Farron’s constituency and his large team are just next door. The party has an opportunity to get a decent result. Cumbria is gorgeous in the Winter and Spring, so I hear.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Since we’re dealing with Lib Dems here:

    Extra incentive to go to the constituency is that the local trains are Mark 2 coaches hauled by class 37 locomotives, with DBSOs on the rear end. The locals may be getting a bit tired of the unreliability, but they’re really nice trains when they’re running.

  • You are such an anorak, Gadsden. What would we do without you?:-)

  • Lorenzo Cherin 12th Jan '17 - 11:36pm

    Have often in past contributions of Rebecca’s , admired her views and approach , and interacted accordingly. A terrific candidate. She deserves to do better than the past results for her local party.

  • Rebecca Hanson 12th Jan '17 - 11:58pm

    Thanks Caron, Richard, Lorenzo.

    They are counting beads if anyone’s interested. I’m a primary maths adviser for my day job! Very useful for children in year 2 who are learing to add and subtract single-digit numbers to of from 2-digit numbers in 2 steps. Would you like a better photo Caron?

    It’s amazing canvassing here – rejuvination for the soul! I must write a blog about 2013 when I canvassed from late March (late winter, fresh snow on the hills, amazing light) to early May (a hot summer day) and we went through all the seasons in between – out in the hills. Walking and talking suits me!

    We have very big plans here and there is certainly a realistic chance we will win this election. I’m amused the national media haven’t sussed that yet. 🙂 Book yourselves a mini-break in Keswick. If you’ve got kids bring them over half term. Come and join the fun!

  • Interesting comment there about being against a hard Brexit and remaining in the single market. That’s very disappointing for any 48% who might have wanted to help. So a direct question Rebecca will you like your Richmond predecessor commit to voting against Article 50.

  • Andy Hinton 13th Jan '17 - 2:53am

    Oh FFS. In politics, the direction of travel is more important than the specific end goal. If Rebecca wants to stand for the Remain end of the spectrum in Copeland, that’s good enough for me, whatever her intentions regarding any hypothetical situation in which she might actually influence the results of a vote on article 50 might be.

    I’m as distressed by the current Brexit-y direction of our country as anyone, but we don’t win this fight by getting Remainy-yer Than Thou about it.

  • Mark Goodrich 13th Jan '17 - 3:44am

    I agree with Andy. Personally, I would like to see a commitment to support the party’s policy referendum on the result of negotiations (and a vote against Article 50 if not included in the bill). Rebecca will, no doubt, be pushed on her position so she should make up her mind and stick to it but will get my full support regardless. Hard Brexit or “train-crash” Brexit look increasingly likely and we need as many to fight that outcome as possible.

    Incidentally, pretty sure that I met Rebecca many years ago when we were both at university!

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 13th Jan '17 - 7:32am

    Congratulations and good luck, Rebecca 🙂 I’m glad you’ve cleared up the mystery of the beads! Your students are very lucky to be getting such a fun introduction to maths.
    Looking forward to making a trip to Keswick soon 🙂

  • Ruth Bright 13th Jan '17 - 9:47am

    What with Rebecca Hanson and Jane Brophy we seem to be picking a lot of people with real cvs these days. Lovely!

  • BYELECTION in Stoke on Trent Central now. Tristram Hunt quits to join V & A. Who next ? Jeremy Corbyn to run the Tower of London ?

    @ Ruth Bright Hi Ruth. Sorry for the delay. Yes, as far as I know Jezza Bentham (plus his head) is still at UCL. Do you remember when he was kidnapped in the Rag ? (A bit after my time, i.e. 67-71, History) Were you there ?

  • Rebecca Hanson 13th Jan '17 - 10:04am

    Here’s me on Brexit:
    Sorry we’re still building the IT infrastructure and everything. Please be patient.
    I’m supporting the party line which is that we don’t vote to action article 50 without a promise of a referendum on the agreement. It seems like the most constructive position to take at present.

  • Richard Underhill 13th Jan '17 - 10:22am
  • Congratulations to Rebecca. I worked with her when she was on the committee of the Liberal Democrat Education Association. She is a fighter with the intellect to understand complex issues and put forward strongly to officials the actions she feels are needed. I hope she gets the full support of all people in the local and national party, as she can make a valuable contribution to raising our profile.
    Nigel Jones, Chair, LDEA

  • Regarding Tristram Hunt, it is not surprising that he does not wish to stand in Stoke again, since he was out of sink with many local Labour voters who tend to be parochial and conservative. One of the local Labour activists recently said he did not like the fact that Tristram did not speak with a Stoke accent. He is also part of the difficulties now facing Labour. In North Staffordshire generally there seems to be a mismatch between many of the Labour committee members and the voters.
    I am sad that he is leaving politics and may well be a casualty of the rise in populist politics. He indicated to me some months ago that there was scope for talks between ourselves and Labour over opposition to government education policy, but that was before Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected as their leader.
    Nigel Jones, Chair, LDEA and Parliamentary Spokesperson for Newcastle under Lyme

  • @Rebecca: Thanks for commenting and good luck to you! I’m sure you’ll get lots of helpers. Will try and organise people to come from Scotland.

    Yes, please – send us more photos, although I really like this one.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 13th Jan '17 - 1:35pm

    David Raw

    Nice ! Made me laugh ! Actually Owen Smith is moving to the States to run the Smithsonean, going with Chuka Umunna, long talked about as the British Obama, who is going to be the star of a new Vegas style tribute act now that good man is is leaving the White House, Dan Jarvis is our new head of the,Army , and Navy , stores like that need innovative leadership !

  • Rebecca Hanson 13th Jan '17 - 2:46pm

    Thanks Caron, let me know if you need anything in particular. Head office are quickly gathering loads of photos – I don’t know if you can get photos from them!

  • Rebecca Hanson 13th Jan '17 - 2:46pm

    and thanks Nigel 🙂

  • Nigel Jones wrote:

    “One of the local Labour activists recently said he did not like the fact that Tristram did not speak with a Stoke accent.”

    It seems that xenophobia and class hatred are still alive and kicking in the less visible parts of the Labour Party.

    Jim Callaghan spoke with a Portsmouth accent, but represented Cardiff. Tony Blair spoke with a slight Scottish accent, but represented Sedgefield. What kind of accent is Jeremy Corbyn expected to have?

    I guess that Clement Attlee, Hugh Gaitskell, Michael Foot and Tony Blair are all unpeople in the Labour Party because they were posh.

    Someone somewhere else has claimed that the Tories have never won Stoke-on-Trent Central. No? What about the local elections immediately after the 1992 General Election? What happened in Stoke on that dark day?

  • Ruth Bright 13th Jan '17 - 5:01pm

    Hi David Raw (sorry to digress) LSE 1985-9, we were more miners’ strike than rag week!!

  • @ Ruth : good for you.

    Lorenzo : Careful, Dan is a mate of my old Prof.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 13th Jan '17 - 7:56pm


    God to hear that, he ‘s also from Nottingham where I ‘ve been for years, I like the man a lot and think he’d get the humour !

  • Matt (Bristol) 13th Jan '17 - 8:08pm

    Best wishes to Rebecca. Will be trying to contribute something to the Copeland Coffers.

    Richard Gadsden – I’m happy to help contribute to the very long list of railway nerd highlights offered by this constituency, but I’m not sure it will help the public image of the party, so will confine myself to the Duddon viaduct and the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway.

  • Lorenzo, and it’s my hope that one day he will be the Leader. At the moment it’s family comes first.

  • for you railway buffs thinking of helping, can I just give a little information to push you along the track: you will know that the Cumbria Coastal line that runs from Barrow up to Carlisle is in dire need of investment. Some of the plans for the nuclear new-build at Moorside (think Sellafield) are dependant on using the railway to transport staff and materials. It’s not fit for purpose, so we (Cumbria) were encouraged to bid under the guise of Local Growth Fund 3 for a small amount of funding to get some prep work done. We did, & the Con Gvt has decided not to grant the funding. So there will be not even the prep work that is needed to determine a full bid for the known investment.

    Now if that doesn’t get you steaming north, what will?

    You guys from London catch the Euston to Lancaster; then the Barrow train; then the Coastal train & get off at Whitehaven (for you historians it is where the Colonial Navy under John Paul Jones saw it’s first engagement in 1778)……..and don’t tarry long in the town’s Rum Museum because there are leaflets to deliver; doors to knock on; & votes to win. Rebecca needs you!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 14th Jan '17 - 1:56am


    Well said , then we can talk Progressive Alliance with our hearts in it . A fine man , Dan Jarvis,who makes a nonsense of party battles amongst those who should be real colleagues , we , all of us , in the mainstream and who care , who have much in common. I have to say , as someone who met and liked Anna Soubry , locally ,and got on with her very well over a decade ago, when she was yet to go all the way to parliament let alone government , even the modern Tories have some good folk, Heidi Allen , others too.But , if you read my comments just a moment ago on the disability rights article , would that this were always so, even in Labour , and I do not only mean their left ! All the parties have over the years lost their way at times.

    A very insightful young woman , a colleague in our local Liberal Democrat party , at a gathering, in our conversation, actually mentioned , that like me , she saw much good in early Blair , but , as a youth at the time of his premiership, then, she has now very much come to the conclusion in recent years that as a man ,and from her research , as a pm, she really thinks John Major was one of the good prime ministers.I had to agree with much of it , as her analysis and mine was similar !

    It reminds me of you and me and our admiration and affection for President Carter , a man , in office , considered an abject failure , now seems a giant , Reagan looking not all that bad , as I’ve said , either to say the least ! Especially the way he and Carter treated each other with friendly disdain, amidst respect .

    A bit like us , eh David ?

    “There you go again !”

  • Katharine Pindar 14th Jan '17 - 8:26pm

    Whether the Copeland by-election is in March or May, Rebecca Hanson’s campaign is up and running! She is the only declared candidate so far, and we have had a day of canvassing in Keswick, where Lib Dems have been well-known activists. Labour were out posting leaflets, but can’t canvass till they heal their divisions enough to select a candidate. Naturally we found on the doorsteps people wondering about candidates and what issues will be raised, but interested that we were there first and working hard on a cold though bright day. The Liberal Democrats’ well-known fast-moving by-election campaigning is under way in Copeland! We look forward to members from elsewhere coming to join us.

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