Mick Whitley, the MP for Birkenhead, attended a Labour Party Hustings yesterday to explain to local party members why he should be reselected as the Labour candidate for his town in the next general election.
Mick is facing a reselection challenge from another Wirral MP, Alison McGovern, whose seat of Wirral South was abolished by the Boundary Commission.
A previous ruling that MPs could only stake a claim to another seat if 40% or more of their old constituent had been moved to a new one, was recently changed. Any MP, with any wards moved to a new constituency, could now challenge sitting MPs.
While more of the Wirral South seat has been moved to neighbouring Ellesmere Port and Wirral West (where the sitting MP has said she will not be standing) Alison decided that Birkenhead was the seat she wanted to go for.
So, although only one ward, Bebington, has been moved into the Birkenhead constituency there is now a reselection contest underway.
Mick was recently resoundingly reselected by his local party and on this basis had agreed to try and win the seat for Labour.
Faced with Alison’s decision to challenge him for the Birkenhead seat meant that he is campaigning to convince members locally that he is the best person for the job, and he set about doing this at today’s hustings.
In his speech today Mick pointed out, “I was humbled to be selected to represent you for the Labour Party at the last election. And thanks to you, I won the seat for Labour against a nationwide swing towards the Tories.
“In return for your support, I made you a promise. I said that I would be Birkenhead’s voice in Westminster and not the other way around. I have kept that promise.
“Birkenhead is the town I was born and raised in. I was shaped by its people and by its strong tradition of trade unionism and socialism. Being selected by you to represent Birkenhead was one of the greatest privileges of my life.
“Birkenhead is one of the most deprived towns in the country and its people have suffered enormously because of the government’s cruel and vindictive austerity measures.
“Over sixteen thousand cases have crossed my desk. And together with my team of case workers we have done our best to help people in need.”
Mick went on to spell out his support for a range of community campaigns and organisations, the work he has carried out supporting the workers of Cammell Laird, the intensive efforts he has made to bring inward investment into the town, his campaign to win additional support for the cash strapped Council and his endless round of lobbying to win inward investment and drive the exciting regeneration projects forward to transform the town.
Mick highlighted his steadfast opposition to the government’s plans to put desperate asylum seekers into prison ships in the town’s docks – refugees are welcome in Birkenhead and there is no place for such inhumane proposals.
Mick also drew attention to his support for workers in struggle, saying, “As the cost-of-living soared I made sure that striking workers knew they had my support. I joined the picket lines.
“I believe that a Labour MP should always stand in the front ranks, supporting workers in their campaigns for decent wages, jobs, and conditions.”
Mick is first and foremost a constituency MP fighting on behalf of the people he represents, the people of Birkenhead, people who need an MP that takes their cases seriously and bends every sinew to trying to help them.
And he is crystal clear on what needs to be done in this country to help his people, “I have made the case for our core Labour values, like public ownership, taxing corporate profits and scrapping Universal Credit. I genuinely believe socialist policies can begin to fix our broken country and bring back hope to Birkenhead.”