Local elections 2021: A Tale of Two Towns – from Birkenhead to Hartlepool

The coming elections are the most nationally significant local polls for a long time. As well as deciding the fate of Wirral Borough Council and many other local authorities there are votes for devolved assemblies, regional mayors, city mayors and even a by-election.

Mick Whitley, Birkenhead’s Member of Parliament, took time out from supporting local councillors to visit Hartlepool on Friday 23 April to support Labour’s candidate Paul Williams in the forthcoming by-election there.

The parallels between Birkenhead and Hartlepool are striking and Mick commented, “Walking the streets of Hartlepool today, the similarities with my own constituency are clear to see. Like Birkenhead, Hartlepool has been devastated by the decline of the shipbuilding industry which left a town that was once buzzing with industry starved of highly-skilled, well-paid work and residents suffering some of the highest levels of unemployment and deprivation in the country.”

Speaking on Labour’s prospects, Mick added, “This will be a hard-fought contest and a crucial test of our ability to win back the faith of voters in red wall seats. But I’m living proof that Labour can win big in northern, Brexit-voting seats. I fought on an agenda of real transformation for the benefit of the people – an economic sea change that promised investment in our communities, the creation of green jobs and a green industrial revolution.

“I was privileged to be able to meet with Hartlepool voters today and see how Labour’s message of investing in our precious NHS, restoring local health services lost to Tory cuts, and protecting jobs at Liberty Steel and Hartlepool Nuclear Power Plant is resonating on the doorstep.”

Hartlepool, like Birkenhead, suffered decades of managed decline and Government neglect. Add to this the cruel years of Tory austerity that has left many in dire poverty, and it becomes clear that the fate of the so-called left-behind towns was far from inevitable.

As Mick stressed, “My message to the voters today is not to put your trust in the very party that took a wrecking ball to Britain’s industrial heartlands and left people in Birkenhead and Hartlepool to pay the price. The Prime Minister’s shameful failure to act and save thousands of jobs at Liberty Steel is just further evidence that his promises to level up the country just aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.”

“This is a Government more interested in doing sleazy favours for its rich friends in the private sector like tax exile Dyson, than it is in standing up for working-class people. Only the Labour Party will invest in the future of our poorest towns and bring about an economic renaissance in Birkenhead and Hartlepool. On 6 May, vote to bring real investment, vote Labour.”

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