Leader of Trafford Council Andrew Western is the prospective parliamentary candidate
Leader of Trafford Council Andrew Western has been selected as Labour’s candidate to replace Kate Green as Stretford and Urmston’s MP.
Ms Green, the current Labour MP for the area, announced back in February that she would stand down at the next election, currently on course to take place in 2024. She said in a statement that the "time was right" to move on to "new experiences and opportunities". She has since been supportive of Mr Western’s bid to replace her.
Thank you to members for placing your trust in me.
The Labour party selection process culminated in a hustings on Sunday where local members voted for their preferred candidate. Mr Western had been shortlisted along with Iram Woolley and Joanne Harding. Cllr Harding is the councillor for Urmston ward while Iram Woolley is from Ealing and is now on the longlist for marginal constituency Derby North.
Stretford and Urmston has an electorate of approximately 70,000 voters. Kate Green won 60.3 per cent of the vote in the last election and it is widely considered to be a safe seat for Labour since its creation when it was won by Beverley Hughes.
Andrew Western is well-known in Trafford as the leader of the council and councillor for Priory ward in Sale, having previously worked in engineering before entering politics.
Mr Western is also currently the Greater Manchester Combined Authority portfolio lead for clean air and communities and co-operatives. He has twice stood as Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Altrincham and Sale West (Graham Brady's seat) in 2017 and 2019.
On news of the selection, Mr Western tweeted: "Absolutely delighted to have been selected as the @UKLabour candidate for Stretford and Urmston, thank you to members for placing your trust in me!"
Economically, Andrew Western supports the principles of a Green New Deal, stating that: “To tackle the climate emergency and ensure that we address it in a way that recognises that climate change isn’t just an environmental justice issue but a social justice one too.
"The only way we can sustainably tackle the climate emergency is by ensuring those working in the jobs of today can fairly and justly transition to the well paid, highly skilled, trade unionised jobs of the future – without this understanding of the link between addressing the climate crisis and the workplace, tackling the climate emergency risks being something working people are wary of.
"I support a Land Tax as part of a shift to more progressive taxation that would also reset the balance business taxation to ensure online giants are on the hook for fair taxation in the same way as those paying business rates; and a move to taxing the highest earners more instead of the current position in which middle earners face the highest tax burden in 50 years.”
While the seat is considered very safe, there are some concerns that Mr Western's association with the Clean Air Zone, which has been the subject of much vitriol online, will impact on the vote share.
Runners and riders
Joanne Harding was widely considered to be Andrew Western’s direct competitor. She is a long-time resident of the constituency, has served as the lead member for adult social care for Trafford Council and led the "Save Trafford General" campaign.
She stated in her campaign material: "I have seen absolutely first hand the devastating role played by poverty, lack of opportunity, poor housing options, and the continued under-funding of essential health and education services, in determining life chances. I’m in no way a career politician. I’m simply driven to do what I can to improve outcomes for us all."
Cllr Harding has experience campaigning in several areas, including issues surrounding violence against women and girls, supporting older residents and improving care provision.
She tweeted: “Congratulations to my colleague @AndrewHWestern you will be a fantastic MP and I look forward to campaigning with and for you at the next election."
Stretford and Urmston was part of a first tranche of seats to select prospective parliamentary candidates as the Labour Party gears up for a general election. The long list included Oxford Council's Cllr Tom Hayes and author and broadcaster Paul Mason, as well as Abisola Arobieke.
Paul Mason – who was born in Leigh – was a senior journalist at the BBC and Channel 4 News. He wrote an open letter to constituents promising to “lead a fight against the crime, high housing costs and rip-off transport prices that blight the lives of working class communities.”
Despite his national profile, Mr Mason did not make the candidate shortlist, reportedly not gaining any nominations.
But even before the long list was published, rumours were swirling about who might be looking to ignite their political careers in this seat.
Yasmin Dar, Manchester's current Deputy Lord Mayor and councillor for Moston ward, was whispered to be looking to make her mark in Trafford.
Slightly more fanciful ideas included Gary Neville making his political debut in the constituency that contains his old stomping ground of Old Trafford, and that Andy Burnham might make it his springboard back to Westminster.
None of these came to pass however - and none can beat for sheer notoriety and chutzpah 2001’s celeb offering, when Katie Price chose the area to make her foray into politics and stand as an independent candidate. The novelist and former glamour model gained 713 votes.
Read next: Andy Burnham announces cheaper bus tickets from September
Read again: Opinion: 'If history repeats itself, Oldham will fall even further behind'
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