Patrick McLoughlin is the Chairman of the Conservative Party and MP for Derbyshire Dales.
We are six days away from two of the most crucial by-elections for the Conservative Party since 2015 and Members of Parliament, candidates, and volunteers are working hard this week to get the Conservative message out to local people in Stoke-on-Trent and Copeland.
I’ve spent the past few days knocking on doors and speaking to voters in both areas and I have been impressed by the work of all of the volunteers working around the clock to share our message.
I know these are tough battles. Both areas have returned Labour MPs since the 1930s – but we’ve got two excellent candidates, and have had a great response on the doorstep as we speak to residents in both areas about our plan for Britain. One message I am hearing again and again: Labour have taken seats like Stoke-on-Trent Central and Copeland for granted for too long and people are fed up of being forgotten and ignored.
I have made several visits to Stoke-on-Trent and Copeland and have seen the hard work that our strong local candidates Jack Brereton and Trudy Harrison are putting in. Trudy and Jack are local people, well known in these constituencies with real commitment and passion for the places they know, love and understand.
I spent Monday morning campaigning with Jack. He knows exactly the issues local people are facing and how he would help them. Unlike the other candidates fighting this by-election, he is born and bred in Stoke-on-Trent and now lives locally with his wife. As Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group which is jointly leading the city council, and the Cabinet Member for regeneration, transport and heritage, he has been responsible for delivering £500 million of investment, and bringing 1000 jobs, into the area and improving local infrastructure. His plan is built from his knowledge of the community and what will work.
Jack has a strong team behind him to help deliver his message. It might’ve been pouring with rain but still over 40 people turned out on Monday to help him deliver leaflets. After a morning’s leafletting we had lunch in a local pub and they told me that they, like many others in Stoke-on-Trent, want to see a change and they know that Jack Brereton is the right man for the job.
Copeland has seen Party members from around the country joining local campaigners out on the streets since before Christmas – and I’m grateful to everyone who has travelled up to help, or made calls from home. Trudy Harrison is a strong local voice who has a track record of delivering for her community – such as the successful campaign she led to save the local primary in her village when it was threatened with closure, and the millions of pounds of investment she’s helped to bring through her regeneration work.
She was fighting for her area long before the by-election was called – and it shows. With a husband who works in the nuclear industry, and four daughters all born in the local hospital, Trudy is standing up for Copeland and rural Cumbria to ensure it has a secure future.
These campaigns are strong because we believe that Jack and Trudy are the right people for Stoke-on-Trent Central and Copeland. I know our candidates will continue to work hard for Copeland and Stoke whether they succeed next Thursday or not, with track records proving they will both carry on delivering for their communities. By-elections are always tough for governing parties, but here we have every chance to deliver two new Conservative Members of Parliament to Westminster.
We cannot afford to be complacent with the futures of these constituencies. I know our colleagues and volunteers won’t be. Party members, MPs and candidates from across the country and are letting me know every day of their plans to get back up to both seats to support our fantastic candidates in these last crucial week.
I know from my own by-election fight in 1986 that these battles can be very close. The work of campaigners and activists is vital until the very end. We’ve put in a lot of hard work already, but now is time to make the last push in the final days of the campaign.
Day after day, headline after headline, Jeremy Corbyn and Labour continue to demonstrate they are out of step with the concerns of ordinary working people. UKIP have shown time and again that they are too divided and shambolic to offer any serious solutions. Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats have nothing to offer. Only the Conservatives can deliver the changes we need to build a stronger, fairer Britain.
If you’d like to help us win, please do so by: visiting the local campaign centres (please email the campaign team to let us know), or signing up to make calls at CCHQ, at regular sessions across the country, or from home.