Wednesday, October 28, 2020
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TCW Election Watch

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ANOTHER reader’s constituency report as the election campaign goes on. See below for how to submit your own report on the choice of candidates you have in your neck of the woods, which of them you plan to vote for and why, what you think of their chances and your stance on Brexit.

BIRKENHEAD

Current MP: Frank Field (formerly Labour, now Birkenhead Social Justice Party)

An observer writes: Possibly the most intriguing battle of the election will be fought here in this careworn old town on the left bank of the Mersey.

In one corner is 77-year-old Frank Field, who held Birkenhead for Labour for 40 years before resigning the whip in 2018 over the party’s anti-semitism and ‘intolerance’. He’s now standing for the Birkenhead Social Justice Party (prop: Frank Field).

In the other corner is the Labour candidate, Momentum-backed Mick Whitley, a locally-born union official and dyed-in-the-wool Corbynista. Few had heard of him before he won the nomination. But, with a Twitter handle of GrassrootsMick1, you can be sure his Leftist credentials are impeccable.

Field, of course, is famous for being a political maverick. In 1997, he was appointed Minister for Welfare Reform by Tony Blair and told to ‘think the unthinkable’. He thought too unthinkably for Blair’s liking and later quit.

But Field was unassailable in Birkenhead, which he held in 2017 with a whopping 25,514 majority. However, the churchgoing, conservative-with-a-lower-case-c, Brexit-backing veteran – an admirer of Margaret Thatcher – has for years been increasingly under attack by the Left for, among many other things, his views on welfare reform, immigration and abortion rights.

Another of his actions which has raised local fury is writing for The Sun, hated on Merseyside for its lies about the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.

Birkenhead was once a thriving seaport and manufacturing centre, famous worldwide for its Cammell Laird shipbuilding yards. In its heyday, some said it might eclipse Liverpool, its mighty neighbour a mile across the river.

But the town has been in decline for half a century and more. In many parts, it is now a bleak post-industrial landscape of empty shops, unemployment, poverty and social deprivation, despite myriad urban revival schemes.

London-born Field has undoubtedly worked hard for Birkenhead and its people – although his Left opponents would probably dispute that – and his national profile gave him a firm personal following here.

In August last year, however, he lost a local Labour vote of confidence after siding with the Government in Brexit votes and later resigned the whip. Announcing his plans to stand for Parliament on his own account, he said: ‘Reports of my political death have been wildly exaggerated.’

But have they? Although the Greens, LibDems, Tories and Brexit Party are also in the contest, the battle for Birkenhead is likely to be a straight slogging match between Fervent Frank and Grassroots Mick.

The town has been a Labour stronghold since the end of the Second World War and that seems unlikely to change on December 12. But if Field pulls it off, it will be a seismic victory.

For inspiration, he might take a stroll down to the Birkenhead waterfront near the Mersey ferry terminal, where a full-size replica of a submarine built in the town in 1879 is on display.

It is called Resurgam – Latin for ‘I will rise again.’

Send your reports (no more than 250 words) to info@conservativewoman.co.uk, with ‘Election Watch’ in the subject line. We are publishing only comments sent in this way, not those left below the line.

Tell us whether you want to use your own name or your TCW commenter name and don’t forget to give your constituency and your MP in the last Parliament. We hope readers will write from all 650 constituencies.

If you sent in a report which was published or unpublished before the Farage announcement, do please feel free to send an updated version.

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The Conservative Woman
Edited by Kathy Gyngell

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