Helen Morgan stands for Lib Dems in North Shropshire

Helen Morgan has been selected as the Lib Dem candidate in the North Shropshire by-election, called after the resignation of Conservative Owen Paterson amid allegations of sleaze.

The campaign in North Shropshire has been underway for a week-and-a-half. Last Saturday Sarah Green, who was elected as MP for Chesham and Amersham in June, opened our campaign HQ near Wem in North Shropshire.

Helen said this morning her top campaigning priority will be to demand a better deal for the constituency’s local health services, which have been taken for granted by the Conservatives for years. It comes with the closure of both of North Shropshire’s ambulance stations, GP services in crisis and A&E wait times on the rise. Helen is also passionate about getting a fair deal for Shropshire’s farmers who are at risk as the Conservatives continue to let them down with disappointing trade deals.

You can donate to the campaign here.

Helen Morgan said:

Residents have a chance to send a strong message to the Conservatives who’ve taken people around here for granted for decades. If elected, I’d fight for investment into our local health services, back our local farmers and end the years of Conservatives taking our area for granted.

Daisy Cooper, Helen Morgan and Ed Davey campaigning in North Shropshire

I’d be an MP that listens to concerns and works hard for our area all year round.

I am the local candidate who will stand up and champion our health services at this election. Shropshire’s health services have been crippled by the Conservatives, our ambulance stations are closing, our GP services are under immense pressure and A&E wait times are spiralling.

And it’s not just our health service that’s been let down, our farmers are not getting a fair deal from this Conservative Government. Residents in our area deserve better.

Ed Davey added:

Helen is a fantastic campaigner with a track record of standing up for local communities across North Shropshire. She would be an outstanding local MP and she’s the only candidate who can beat the Conservatives.

For too long the Conservatives have taken North Shropshire for granted, often ignoring the views of local people. It is a simple choice at this election. Residents can elect Helen, a hardworking local Liberal Democrat and an outstanding campaigner, or an unknown Conservative lawyer from Birmingham who’ll continue the neglect local health services have seen.

Helen Morgan

Born and raised in the rural Midlands, Helen and her family moved to North Shropshire in 2014 to raise her son closer to family.

Helen read History at Cambridge University and is a Chartered Accountant. Earlier, she said that she wants to be an MP because she wants to defend the values of tolerance, respect and integrity that are under threat: “I have watched with dismay as our government and opposition have moved further to the extremes of politics.”

During her career in finance, Helen has worked for both large publicly-traded corporations and local, family-run businesses. Having worked in the energy industry, Helen is acutely aware of the threat of climate change believes that the government must take a proactive stance to diminish the damage of human activity on our planet.

Declared candidates for North Shropshire by-election

These are the candidates announced so far:

  • Lib Dems. Helen Morgan, a charted accountant, wants to defend the values of tolerance, respect and integrity from growing threats.
  • Conservatives. Dr Neil Shastri-Hurst from Birmingham, a barrister and former army officer.
  • Green Party. Shropshire Councillor and Oswestry Town Councillor Duncan Kerr.
  • Labour. “Oswestry born and bred” Ben Wood. Local wannabe candidate Graeme Currie furiously accused Labour of operating a “kangaroo court” after he was blocked from standing.
  • Reform Party. Kirsty Walmsley, the daughter of ex-council leader Keith Barrow, told the Shropshire Star she would not have challenged Owen Paterson who was a “man of integrity”.
  • The Party Party. Russell Dean, an ex-pat yacht broker, is standing for a party based in Monte Carlo.

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25 Comments

  • John Marriott 16th Nov '21 - 11:15am

    Once again, the ladies appear to be doing the heavy lifting. When it comes to getting selected for possibly winnable seats, it really does look from the outside as if, as far as the Lib Dems are concerned, men are becoming an endangered species.

  • Gwyn Williams 16th Nov '21 - 11:16am

    Good Luck Helen

  • Good luck to Helen. I know she was our candidate for the last election when everyone expected another easy Conservative win, so it will be a bit of a culture shock for her to be subject to much more attention and scrutiny this time around.

    @John. There’s a list of candidates selected so far for the next election on Mark Pack’s site. My quick tally assuming gender based on names is that it’s six men and two women. My understanding is that we’re selecting early on the winnable seats.

    https://www.markpack.org.uk/167842/liberal-democrat-prospective-parliamentary-candidates/

    When Helen put herself forward and was originally selected for this seat, it wasn’t treated as ‘winnable’. I have no insight into how the selection process for the by-election was handled, but unless you have knowledge of a good quality male candidate being unfairly overlooked there is no justification for your claim that ‘men are becoming an endangered species’.

    If you are concerned that men are missing out because the women are getting too much support, then I suggest you look through the list of PPCs, find the male candidate living closest to you, and offer to help them win.

  • John Marriott 16th Nov '21 - 12:04pm

    @Fiona
    I have absolutely nothing against Ms Morgan. As a Cambridge alumnus myself she would get my vote if I had one. The fact that, unlike me, she can also do sums is an added bonus! I know the history behind her ‘selection’ and, of course, she ticks all the right boxes. I really hope she wins. HOWEVER, it’s the ‘optics’, especially in the House of Commons, that concerns me.

    A few weeks ago, I borrowed the phrase from the song, ‘Sisters are doing it for themselves’ to illustrate the fact that, whereas a few years ago, the gender mix of the parliamentary party was very much male orientated, it would now appear to be tipping massively the other way.

    I know that people should succeed on merit and I certainly do not favour all female (or all male for that matter) shortlists. My point is that those in charge of strategy should look at the bigger picture.

    As for your suggestion that I seek out a male candidate ‘living closest to you’ and offer my support, this is Lincolnshire, when you’ve done and said all. If JC or Mother Teresa turned up wearing a gold/yellow/orange* rosette, they would still be unlikely to win.

    *That’s another issue someone needs to adjudicate on. Just what IS the party colour?

  • @John, if you are worried about optics, aren’t you worried about your repeated complaints about ‘women doing the heavy lifting’ makes you look sexist? And while I’m not saying we can afford to shun the sexist vote, do we want to pander to it?

    If you are confident that Helen is the best candidate here, what exactly do you want?

    We’ve had hundreds of years of the House of Commons being male dominated. It’s still male dominated. We had a period of time in our recent history when all of our MPs were men. We shouldn’t be worried about having a parliamentary party that is majority female for a couple of years, and anyone worried about the future of men in the party can rest easy that we are no longer allowed to have all women short-lists. That the candidates selected so far for our most winnable seats are majority male should reassure them further.

    While we’re on the subject, does anyone have a break-down of the male/female balance for our representatives in the House of Lords? What about our councillors? Jane Dodds makes up a 100% female MS, but 75% of our MSPs are men.

  • Yeovil Yokel 16th Nov '21 - 1:04pm

    Delighted, I’ll top up my donation.

  • Neil James Sandison 16th Nov '21 - 1:17pm

    Good luck Helen lets hope you beat the import from Birmingham .Oh dear John when you in a hole stop digging .

  • Barry Lofty 16th Nov '21 - 2:03pm

    I have written previously about my family roots in the Chesham and Amersham constituency, who’s to say it cannot happen again? Best wishes anyway!!

  • Andy Boddington 16th Nov '21 - 2:38pm

    @John Marriott I don’t understand where you are coming from on this. It is inevitable that with small numbers, the balance of men and women MPs will not be equal.

    If we get a female MP in North Shropshire, we will have one female and two male MPs, or two females to three MPs if you include Telford. In the May local elections, under a third of the Lib Dem candidates nationally were women. That hasn’t changed for 20 years. Here, we put up 17 female candidates in May and 40 men for Shropshire Council. We now have 5 female councillors and 9 men.

    Helen Morgan was chosen because she was the best candidate, she has the capability to work as an MP with confidence and she has been working the constituency for a good while.

    We need to stop fretting about whether the candidate is a man, woman or otherwise identified. We need to get on with campaigning. There are just 30 days to go before election eve. We can win this by-election if we work together.

  • John Bicknell 16th Nov '21 - 3:02pm

    Having a female candidate does seem to be an advantage at a by-election, as the winners in 12 out of the last 13 have been women. Is that just co-incidence, or is there perhaps a subtle psychological advantage?
    Whilst the BBC online gave a special report to the selection of the Conservative and Labour candidates, Helen Morgan has only received a group listing. Was there any reason why she was only chosen 2 days before the deadline? It seemed a slight loss of momentum.

  • Jason Connor 16th Nov '21 - 3:10pm

    I do not and never have made campaign donations online due to identity theft issues. Can you suggest other methods of payment by cheque and who payable to?

  • So long as the candidate has been chosen on merit rather than their gender and how a ‘gender balance’ might be perceived by some voters it doesn’t matter whether they are male or female. As a smaller party than the big two which is consequently less reliant on a blind ‘colour of the rosette’ party vote the Liberal Democrats have more need than they do to select your candidates very carefully in general terms but particularly so in those seats where you could win and make the full use of your range of most able prospective MPs.

    I hope Helen Morgan wins. The country needs an opposition party to take the fight to the Tories over their grotesque incompetence on various issues, to stand-up for real democratic values ie Proportional Representation which if we had it would surely reduce even Tory sleaze which is once again rearing its disturbing head and to an even more worrisome extent than under John Major!

    I am sure it will be better for North Shropshire to elect a local person from the constituency who knows it than have yet another Tory timeserver and even worse one from far away Birmingham who appears to know virtually nothing about the seat! Still, I am not surprised the Conservatives have selected him rather than someone local as they obviously regard the seat as ‘their property for life’ on account of it being the seat with the longest continual Tory representation in the country since 1832 according to the Electoral Reform Society!

  • Good luck Helen. The Labour candidate for the last three elections was forbidden from taking any part in the selection process!

  • James Fowler 16th Nov '21 - 7:40pm

    Good luck Helen!

    As regards gender balance, the Parliamentary Party is so small that any additional member creates a huge ‘swing’ and the probability of complete imbalance after a GE is high – see 2015.

    Historically though, we (LDs) were left behind by Lab and Con on this issue during the noughties – good to see some progress on it.

  • Good luck, Helen. It should be an interesting campaign for all involved.

  • She looks like a really impressive candidate. Good luck Helen, and please everyone donate all you can – though Jason Connor’s point is well made. I know a number of party member’s who wont donate online. A useful reminder to the by election organisers (who are hopefully following this?) to always provide a cheque option when asking for donations.

  • Andy Boddington 17th Nov '21 - 6:46am

    @John Bicknell Just post a cheque made out to North Shropshire Liberal Democrats to “Freepost NSLIBDEMS”. It is important to include your name and address to record the donation. Thanks

  • Mick Taylor 17th Nov '21 - 7:10am

    I am sure that Helen Morgan will be a superb candidate and a first rate MP. However, if we are to make progress as a party, then surely we have to get people to vote for the Lib Dems because they support our principles and like our policies. In my view there has been too little emphasis on our principles and too much focus on candidates. So, I actually think that starting out the campaign without an official candidate is not a problem. It should give us a chance to project the party and we don’t do that nearly enough.
    I have often found John Marriott’s comments to be on-the-ball. In this case, he is simply wrong. Men will simply have to get used to getting selected or not on merit and if women candidates are selected in any given situation, then men have to suck it up. The large LibDem group I led in the early 2000s was 50% men and women. The same council group (much smaller it has to be said) is now 80% men. Women still find it much harder to get selected than men. Indeed, it is still difficult to persuade many women to stand at all, because they still believe that men are favoured. We have made some progress since my days as a young Liberal, when it was openly said (wrongly) that women would get less votes than a man and selection panels acted accordingly.

  • John Marriott 17th Nov '21 - 9:03am

    I do hope that Ms Morgan does well. Winning might be a tall order but coming a close second might be a massive achievement and make Labour realise it needs to talk cooperation. However…you never know, especially in By elections.

  • Peter Martin 17th Nov '21 - 9:49am

    @ Mike Read,

    “The Labour candidate for the last three elections was forbidden from taking any part in the selection process!”

    This would be once under Ed Miliband’s leadership and twice under Jeremy Corbyn’s.

    Do you have any reference to support this claim and the reasons why? I’m not saying that this doesn’t happen in the Labour Party, but I haven’t heard of it. For example, the previous candidate Graeme Currie was excluded from standing this time and we’ve all heard of that.

    It should be a basic principle of party democracy that any member can stand for whatever position they wish.

  • Suzanne Fletcher 17th Nov '21 - 12:04pm

    I see she has an accountancy background. Ian Swales did and I think he said there was only one other in the H of C of any party. Apart from all the other excellent reasons for getting elected, this is an additional good one, the H of C really does need some accountants there, as well as all those lawyers and such. not to “add up” but have that perspective.

  • According to social media (please apply relevant caveats), Currie was excluded on the grounds of his own social media posts. In particular, apparent support for Corbyn/dismissal of anti-semitism/actual anti-semitism. He denies the latter two. He’s not happy about it, and is describing himself as a former Labour member, but it’s not clear he he was suspended or if he’s resigning from the party.

    Another dynamic is the selected candidate is now under scrutiny from those who support Currie/Corbyn and are anti-Starmer. It seems (previous caveats apply) that many in Labour resent him being ‘parachuted in’ by Starmer’s office, and they are making a lot of his brief work experience, many years ago, in Paterson’s office.

    It seems his LinkedIn profile shows he did a month’s work experience with Paterson in 2012, which I’d say is more a sign of his long-term interest in politics rather than him being a secret Tory. But it’s clearly enough to wind up some activists who aren’t happy with what’s gone on.

    I had a look through Wood’s social media and it’s fairly obvious that either he took a big break from social media, or he’s done a lot of deleting. The disgruntled Labour supporters assume the latter (and they are probably right), which is adding to their anger.

    There’s a lot of hyperbole out there, but it could be the local party aren’t entirely happy either, which will undermine any serious push to gain votes. On the other hand, it could be that Labour knew they couldn’t afford to have a loose cannon for a by-election that will get a lot of scrutiny. They know they can’t win, so select a candidate that won’t embarrass them.

  • Suzanne,

    Sarah Olney is a Chartered Accountant. If Helen is elected she will have a colleague to swap double-entry bookkeeping stories with in Parliament. As an accountant myself, I do agree the H of C really does need some accountants to have that perspective.
    Should either of these Ladies, at some future date, find themselves called upon to execute the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer they might note the advice of
    Gladstone’s chancellor, Robert Lowe https://academic.oup.com/histres/article-abstract/79/205/404/5609771?redirectedFrom=fulltext. He described the office in the following terms in the House of Commons, on 11 April 1870: “The Chancellor of the Exchequer is a man whose duties make him more or less of a taxing machine. He is entrusted with a certain amount of misery which it is his duty to distribute as fairly as he can.”

  • Mike Read 16th Nov ’21 – 6:37pm:
    The Labour candidate for the last three elections was forbidden from taking any part in the selection process!

    Peter Martin 17th Nov ’21 – 9:49am:
    Do you have any reference to support this claim and the reasons why?

    Currie’s personal statement has been widely reported…

    ‘’Betrayed and abused’: Labour’s previous North Shropshire candidate not shortlisted for by-election’ [14th. November 2021]:
    https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/politics/2021/11/14/betrayed-and-abused-labours-previous-north-shropshire-candidate-not-shortlisted-for-by-election/

    Mr Currie, who has been a member of Labour for more than 40 years, feels he has been unfairly judged for social media posts in support of Palestine. He called the local executive committee “Stalinist” and said the party has “a corruption in its soul”.

    In a lengthy statement, he said: “Yesterday the Labour Party National Executive Committee (NEC) blocked my inclusion onto the North Shropshire local members hustings to shortlist for the upcoming by-election candidate. This hustings is taking place today [Sunday].

    “Under the guise of ‘due diligence’ they raised spurious concerns regarding a tweet in 2018 of a Palestinian badge and a Facebook post in 2020 where I quoted Jeremy Corbyn calling for calm following the Equalities Commission’s report on findings of Institutional anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

    “I consider I have been unjustly slurred as anti-Semitic. I abhor this slur and I am devastated and disgusted.”

  • nvelope2003 18th Nov '21 - 5:40pm

    I tried to send a donation for the North Shropshire by election but could not do so as it was claimed that my details were not recognised. After several attempts I gave up. Sorry

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