Political

Rebecca Hanson selected by Liberal Democrats for Copeland by-election

A west Cumbrian councillor who has been fighting to save maternity services in Whitehaven has been chosen as the Liberal Democrats candidate for Copeland MP.

Rebecca Hanson was last night selected to stand in the upcoming by-election, which was called following the shock resignation of current Copeland MP Jamie Reed.

Mrs Hanson, a Cockermouth councillor, has strongly opposed Success Regime plans to remove services, and particularly consultant-led maternity, from the West Cumberland Hospital.

She recently published her own research to demonstrate the safety risk to mums in labour and their babies. [News & Star]

The Times & Star adds:

Mrs Hanson said: “This by-election is a chance for people to send a strong message against a hard Brexit that damages local jobs by pulling Britain out of the Single Market.

“It’s also an opportunity to reject this Conservative government’s underfunding of our NHS and say no to plans to move vital services like maternity and A&E from the West Cumberland Hospital to Carlisle.

“I am passionate about standing up for West Cumbria, and recognise the vital role that the nuclear industry plays in our local economy.

The emphasis on Europe and health fits the evolving Liberal Democrat concentration on Europe, education and health which Tim Farron has set out as his top three. An important part of the Liberal Democrat approach, however, should be not only to argue in favour of things which pretty much everyone loves (the NHS) but also in favour of those liberal measures which others oppose.

Why the Lib Dems are fighting Copeland

Over in the New Statesman, Lib Dem MP Tom Brake explains why the Liberal Democrats will be fighting Labour for votes in Copeland:

Jeremy Corbyn’s ambivalence about Europe was well established, even before he declared that Britain could be better off after Brexit. He refused to share a platform with the Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron during the referendum campaign to make the progressive case for Remain (worker rights, environmental protection, jobs in the single market) – with disastrous consequences…

Labour is now effectively two parties. One is anti-immigration, rooted in the regions, and fearful of Ukip doing to Labour what the SNP did to them in Scotland. The other is metropolitan, pro-immigration and fearful of a Lib Dem revival in London and other cities…

There is, as Jackie Ashley and other traditionally pro-Labour commentators have now noticed, a united, pro-European, progressive party proving it can beat the Tories. I refer, of course, to my party, the Liberal Democrats…

We will not help progressive politics if we stand aside for Corbyn’s Labour, which would merely give the left false hope that someone of the hard left could become Prime Minister. To us, a Eurosceptic statist such as Corbyn is not even progressive. By doing well ourselves, the Lib Dems will strengthen the hand of Labour moderates to seize back control of their party, or else leave it entirely. Only then will re-alignment be back on the agenda.

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