Date: Friday 24th February 2017
Trudy Harrison
Trudy Harrison

New MP vows to

be “true champion that area needs”

KESWICK’S new MP, Trudy Harrison (right), has vowed to be “the true champion this area needs” after pulling off an astonishing victory over Labour in Thursday’s Copeland constituency by-election.

Mrs. Harrison’s success in overturning Jamie Reed’s majority meant it was the first time Copeland had been out of Labour control since 1935.

She polled 13,748 votes, leading Labour’s candidate Gillian Troughton by 2,147 votes and turning round Jamie Reed’s majority at the general election of 2,564.

The by-election was triggered by Mr. Reed’s decision to resign and take up a post at Sellafield nuclear plant.

Along with the Stoke-on-Trent by-election, held on the same day, the Copeland contest brought national interest to Keswick and West Cumbria, with campaigning visits by several political big-hitters, notably the Prime Minister Theresa May.

After the count Mrs. Harrison said: “We’ve run a positive campaign with my six-point plan and I will be the true champion this area needs. I will be a strong and confident voice in Parliament.”

Mrs. Harrison, the mother of four daughters, lives in Bootle and was educated at Wyndham School, Egremont. She said: “We’ve had Labour here for more than 80 years, but it has been very clear when talking to people in the campaign that Jeremy Corbyn does not represent them. They want a party on the side of ordinary working people.

“The people are ready for change. It was a campaign that represented the needs of this area. And I know this area because I have lived here all of my life. I think that, and the combination of Jeremy Corbyn’s views on nuclear in an area which is so dependent on Sellafield and on Moorside contributed to my win tonight.”

The new MP said many people who had put their faith in her had never voted Conservative before and she pledged: “I care deeply about this community. Our area needs someone who can make our voices heard and work with the Government to get things done.”

Mrs. Harrison said she would be meeting ministers as early as Monday and added that it was “an enormous honour” to have been elected to serve the area.

Keswick was last served by a Conservative MP in 1976 when Richard Page won a by-election in the Workington constituency. Mr. Page lost the seat to Dale Campbell-Savours three years later.

Keswick was part of Workington until it was moved into Copeland in 2010.

Mrs. Troughton made no comment to the waiting media pack after the result, but Lib Dem candidate Rebecca Hanson said she was pleased to have beaten Ukip into third place — the Lib Dem vote being almost double their general election tally. She said: “People are coming to understand the Lib Dems again and what we are campaigning for.”

Independent Michael Guest was disappointed not to reach 200 votes, but said: “This is just the start of the Independent movement and we’ve big plans for candidates for the county council elections.”

Green Party candidate Jack Lenox, from Keswick, said it had been a good chance to share party policies with a national focus in this election.

Ukip’s Fiona Mills said she had had good feedback throughout the campaign and was, perhaps, a victim of tactical voting.

The Copeland result had leading political commentators reaching for words like “history-making” and “unprecedented” and in his first reaction, Jeremy Corbyn said the Labour Party message “was not enough to win through” in Copeland, although Labour did hold on to the Stoke seat.