MP’s first speech champions town

Jo Platt MP making her maiden speech in Parliament
Jo Platt MP making her maiden speech in Parliament

The borough’s newest MP used her maiden speech to champion Leigh as well as attack the record of the Government.

Leigh parliamentary representative Jo Platt used her first speech in the House of Commons to pay glowing tribute to the town’s achievements and community spirit.

She praised the work of her predecessor Andy Burnham, who stepped down after 16 years in parliament to become Greater Manchester Mayor, and also paid tribute to Leigh’s sporting successes, culture and heritage.

Ms Platt also used her speech to champion her constituency’s campaigners and those who have fought for change, particularly highlighting the Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) movement seeking fair transitional arrangements for those now having to retire later than planned.

Her speech was also deeply critical of Conservative policy, suggesting that ministers’ decisions were at the root of many of the problems Leigh continues to face.

Ms Platt said: “I have spent the last six years elected as a councillor in local government and I have watched this government’s austerity measures chip away at our essential public services: cuts to adult social care and children’s services.

“This is nothing but an 
attack on the most vulnerable in our society.

“But I have also seen our local authorities and communities fight back, supporting and empowering the very people it serves.

“I am proud to have been a part of the innovative way that our services have dealt with such measures; supporting communities doing what they have always done in times of crisis, supporting each other, just like they did in the 1980s during the miners strike and just as they are now, from homeless shelters, foodbanks and to countless volunteers that work to keep our heritage alive.

“This is what you call a social movement; communities that work tirelessly to ensure each other are supported. Today I would like to pay tribute to those that give their time to do such work.

“I would like to pay tribute to my predecessors, Harold Boardman, Laurence Cunliffe and of course my most recent predecessor, Andy Burnham.

“Andy served this house with commitment for 16 years. His work on the Hillsborough disaster and more recently the contaminated blood scandal, his strength and passion for truth and justice, will forever be his legacy.

“This is something that I aim to aspire to emulate.”

Ms Platt, who became Leigh’s first female MP when she was elected earlier this year with more than 26,000 votes, had previously spoken of her intention to put Leigh first in everything she did working in Parliament.

She hopes to campaign on cuts to frontline public services such as the education system, social care and the NHS.

Ms Platt has enjoyed a rapid rise through the political ranks, serving as a councillor for Astley Mosley Common ward before becoming portfolio holder for children and young people’s services at Wigan Council.

All newly-elected MPs are required to make a maiden speech before they can fully participate at Westminster.