Labour party members will this weekend select their candidate to contest the closely-fought Colne Valley seat at the next General Election.
A seven-person ‘long list’ of candidates has been whittled down to a shortlist of three and Labour members in the Colne Valley will vote for their favourite at a hustings event at Cathedral House in Huddersfield on Saturday (December 10).
The three on the shortlist are two Kirklees councillors – Cabinet member Paul Davies and Amanda Pinnock – and the Labour candidate who came second in the Colne Valley poll in 2015, Jane East.
Clr Davies, a former mine worker from South Wales, is now Cabinet member for corporate services and finances at Kirklees Council and represents Holme Valley South.
Clr Pinnock, a solicitor, is a councillor for the Ashbrow ward in Huddersfield while Ms East is an NHS manager who came second to Conservative Jason McCartney in 2015.
The Colne Valley seat has swung between the Tories and Labour in recent elections. Mr McCartney won the seat from Labour in 2010 and held off Ms East’s challenge by around 5,000 votes five years later.
In 2017 he lost to Labour’s Thelma Walker by just 915 votes but two years later turned the tables on former headteacher Mrs Walker, returning to Parliament with another 5,000 majority.
The Colne Valley constituency includes the Holme Valley too and covers Holmfirth, Meltham, Marsden, Slaithwaite, Honley, Brockholes, Linthwaite, New Mill, Golcar, Lindley, Netherton and Crosland Moor.
A General Election isn’t expected until 2024 but candidates are now being selected. In July former Kirklees councillor Harpreet Uppal, who also represented Ashbrow, was chosen as Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Huddersfield.
Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman, 82, has been the town’s MP since 1979. He steps down at the next General Election.
Huddersfield Hub asked the three Colne Valley candidates to submit a 300-word statement. In alphabetical order, here’s what they said.
Having been an active party member since I was 16, Labour is in my DNA.
My early years of working in the mines, and representing miners as an NUM rep, gave me first-hand experience of how working people can fight for their communities through the Labour movement.
It made my future too, after I attended Ruskin College, Oxford, with a NUM bursary. From there it was a short step to Cardiff University and then a professional career, first in HR and then Operations Management.
From the mining village of Caerau to European operations director for a global IT company, I have all the tools an MP needs to represent our diverse communities and fight for a better deal for working people.
For the past 12 years, the Tories have been neglecting Colne Valley and cutting public services to the bone.
As a Cabinet member for Kirklees Council, I’ve seen up close and personal the impact of over a decade of Tory austerity, which looks set to make a comeback under Rishi Sunak and I’ve been leading the response locally to the latest cost-of-living crisis.
But Labour councils have been fighting this battle for too long – we need a Labour government to rebuild our public services and take us forward again.
We need Labour to win in Colne Valley and I have been winning here for the past four years. I’ve worked hand-in-glove with dedicated Labour community activists like Matthew McLoughlin and Moses Crook.
With an incredible effort from our wonderful and united local party, we got them both elected, showing the Tories the door.
In summary, I know what it takes to win here – how to galvanise our members and convince the electorate that Labour will listen to them and represent their needs and I have delivered as a local councillor.
I will be able to do the same as a Parliamentary candidate and I am convinced we can win in Colne Valley and make it a Labour seat for many years to come.
I am a hardworking and honest woman with deeply held Labour values, who is passionate about building a more equal Britain and a fairer, rebalanced world.
I come from a working-class family, went to my local comprehensive and was the first in my family to go to university.
After a decade as a family and childcare social worker, I spent 20 years in international development, including as a VSO volunteer and country director for Christian Aid in Nigeria.
Most recently, I worked for a community-based organisation promoting citizen engagement, and am now an NHS manager, coordinating cancer services. These experiences have given me the capacity to engage with people from diverse communities and from every walk of life.
I stood as the Labour Party Parliamentary Candidate in Colne Valley in 2015. It was one of the most challenging yet rewarding things I have ever done.
Although I didn’t win, I was proud that we increased the Labour vote by nearly 9%. I learnt so much, met many wonderful people, and made lifelong friends who I have visited often.
I am not standing in any other constituency; Colne Valley is a place I care about and with which I have a strong connection.
I have the skills vital to being an effective MP – team leadership, strategic influencing, partnership-building and communications.
I believe that being an MP is about enabling others, promoting joint action, and creating laws which make the lives of ordinary people less difficult.
Times are tough for too many of us now. But I am hopeful. I believe in the possibility of change. Our country’s future is not yet written, and I hope to be part of an incoming Labour government committed to shaping a greener, fairer and more equitable society.
I am a passionate woman who wants to make a difference.
I believe that people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and have the right to live comfortably, feel secure and valued. It is for these reasons I have embarked on a career in law and politics.
I am a solicitor who represents the interest of residents in Kirklees. In my role I ensure my clients have access to justice and I challenge rogue landlords who have tenants living in substandard accommodation.
In 2015 I stood in the local elections because I wanted to make a difference in the community, to ensure that the needs of residents in Kirklees were catered for but also that Kirklees is a great place to live and work.
I made history by being the first councillor of African descent to sit on the council. I am now into my second term.
I have over seven years’ experience of being a councillor and have become renowned for championing communities and focusing on priority issues.
My parents moved to the Colne Valley area when I was eight years old and I have fond memories growing up.
I am passionate and committed to helping to create a better world for future generations, not just to survive but to thrive. This means not shying away from challenging issues like the cost-of-living crisis, climate change and our broken housing market.
I’m not ashamed to say that I love my town and as a qualified and experienced solicitor I could easily have taken my skills further down south, where much more lucrative opportunities exist.
However, my love for Huddersfield and the area I was raised in, goes beyond financial gain, and helping to ensure equality of opportunity for all and building a brighter future is the fuel that drives me.