When Rebecca Long Bailey, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, came to Cumbria to meet with business leaders on Thursday 30 May, she made a point of taking time out of her busy schedule to drop in on local Labour Party members in Penrith.
Long-Bailey, who is an outspoken advocate of a ‘Green Industrial Revolution,’ a rising star of the Labour Party and tipped as a future party leader, describes herself as, “A wife, mother and proud Socialist”. After working in call centres, a furniture factory, and as a postwoman, she studied politics and philosophy at university in Manchester before going on to qualify as a solicitor. She was first elected as Member of Parliament for Salford and Eccles at the 2015 general election with a 49.4% share of the vote and re-elected in the 2017 general election with 65.5%, giving her an impressive majority of over 19,000.
Rebecca, who asked to meet a group of Councillors and campaigners, enjoyed a cup of tea with District Councillor Lissie Sharp, Town Councillors Hilary Snell and Dave Knaggs, Hilary Barker (local party Chair), and John Potts (local Campaign Coordinator). The contact was made through Hilary Snell (Chair of Eden & Penrith Branch), who briefly met Rebecca at least year’s Labour Party conference in Liverpool.
The Labour Party now has two seats on the Eden District Council and, for the first time, won five seats on the Penrith Town Council. Rebecca said, “The local Labour Party has made some fantastic achievements in this area over recent years. I felt I must meet them to express the party’s gratitude and to hear about their activities. It is the inspirational commitment of our grassroots members that keeps our party strong”.
Long Bailey, who has campaigned on Labour’s approach to a transformative Green Industrial Revolution and bringing energy networks back into public ownership, was particularly heartened to hear that, at the first session of the new Penrith Town Council, a motion was passed proposing a ‘climate emergency’.
During the District Council election campaign, several Councillors and prospective Councillors signed a letter published in the Herald outlining their support for the Eden District Council to declare and climate emergency. It now expected that there is sufficient support within the newly elected Council to move ahead with this proposal.