‘Safe seat days are over’ says Labour’s candidate for South Shields

Emma Lewell-Buck ahead of the General Election.
Emma Lewell-Buck ahead of the General Election.

THE Labour candidate for South Shields has spoken of her ambition to become a minister in a future Labour government.

Emma Lewell-Buck says she is not taking her re-election for granted as she heads into the final week of the general election campaign.

This campaign has been just as busy as in 2013 but it has had less of a frantic feel about it. In by-elections it’s all hands to the deck and you have people coming from all over the country to help out.

Emma Lewell-Buck

She was elected town MP after a by-election in 2013 and says she is fighting the campaign this time round on what she has achieved in the two years since.

Mrs Lewell-Buck also admits that Labour can no longer take South Shields for granted as a “safe seat”.

She said: “It’s not 1997 anymore. The world’s a different place. There are that many different parties now and you are losing that ‘I’ve always voted Labour so I will again’ approach.

“People are questioning more, which I think is a good thing because I love having a good debate with people. We have knocked on doors where people say they have always voted Labour but are now saying they’re not sure, they’re having a serious think about it. I have never taken it for granted and I never will, even if I am successful next Thursday. It’s about respecting your constituents.”

In the past two years Mrs Lewell-Buck’s office has dealt with almost 5,000 pieces of casework for constituents, on issues ranging from housing and immigration to international affairs.

The MP has also been a vocal figure in the House of Commons, where she has one of the highest records for speaking.

She is also proud of the jobs fair she has held in the town and the campaigns she has backed in Parliament, including her part in helping change the law around child sexual grooming which will make it compulsory for an individual to be arrested after one offence of contacting a child for sex.

And Mrs Lewell-Buck is also unapologetic about her long-term political ambitions.

She said: “I got into politics to make a difference and, yes, you can make a huge difference as a backbencher but if you become a minister or a secretary of state the ability to make a difference becomes even stronger and I didn’t come into this not to make a difference.

“This campaign has been just as busy as in 2013 but it has had less of a frantic feel about it. In by-elections it’s all hands to the deck and you have people coming from all over the country to help out.

“This time it has been the constituency Labour Party and core supporters coming out and pounding the streets.

“It’s been nicer talking to voters this time round because you’ve got that record. You have been in two years and people recognise you, so instead of having to introduce myself they’ll say, ‘oh, it’s our Emma, lovely to see you’ and have a chat about something I have done in Parliament. This is very much my campaign.”

The other candidates in South Shields are: Lisa Nightingale (Independent), Robert Oliver (Conservative), Gita Gordon (Liberal Democrat), Norman Dennis (UKIP), Shirley Ford (Green Party).

Twitter: @shieldsgazpaul