Hywel Morgan, Lib-Dem agent, appears to be unduly fascinated by procedures within the local Labour Party. I could tell him, as my grandpa used to say, non-players off the green. However, his claim that Julie Cooper was a second choice needs a response.
I can tell him the local party had no hesitation in endorsing Julie a second time this year, following on from selecting her on an open shortlist in competition against a number of excellent candidates whom she out performed in 2010.
Sadly Julie was selected too late to hold the seat for Labour, just six months before the election. She faced, in 2010, the worst conditions for Labour since 1931, the only other time since “one person one vote” a coalition Liberal won the seat, and that time too for one term only.
However, she mounted a spirited campaign and has led the growth, and has been the public face of the local party ever since. She is the natural choice for Labour leader of the council and has worked tirelessly on behalf of Burnley residents for many years. I have no doubt her driving the Lib-Dems from office in Burnley Council, after their disgraceful collaboration with the worst Tory Government in living memory, is the real reason Mr Morgan just can’t let this go. Especially on a day that government has imposed a further 31% cuts in local services in Burnley.
However, let me tell him why she was selected. Julie became active at the time Labour were being punished at the polls for what was perceived by many as going stale after decades of control. Whether totally fair, Burnley Labour understood the party had to change, before this was realised nationally, to win back our core vote. Julie was elected as a change candidate. We needed to challenge the inequality and unfairness the Thatcher years brought and that were not adequately tackled by Labour last time.
Julie was selected as a local candidate, with Padiham roots, who had worked in her own business in the heart of Burnley for many years. She is capable and she cares about local people. She is part of the Labour Party of the future and not its past. It should be remembered Burnley Labour did experiment with a candidate whose previous experience was more national than local and that did not end well.
Julie was selected because whatever she does when MP, she will fight for Burnley and Padiham first and foremost. She does this every day already. So what could be more natural than our endorsing her again.