Former Leigh MP reveals plans to have another tilt at the seat
Leigh’s former MP Joanne Platt has thrown her hat in the ring to become the Labour candidate to stand in the next general election.
The seat she lost in 2019 when the "red wall” fell is something she hopes she can win back.
The next general election is scheduled to take place in 2024 if a snap election is not called before then and Ms Platt is set for a gruelling internal process, which she considers can be tougher than an election campaign itself, to try and become Labour’s choice for Leigh.
Since 2019, she has been working within the community on the ground as well as getting involved with Leigh Spinners Mill – which they are looking to unveil next month.
“For me this is important because of what happened in 2019 and the failing of Labour in the red wall seats,” she said reflecting.
“I have not taken this decision lightly and I have done a lot of soul searching as well as speaking to a number of members. I think just on the basis of support I have got made me want to do it again.
“However, it is not up to me to decide if I am going to be the candidate. What happened in the last election was awful for Leigh.
“It was a shock for everyone in the party.
“The fall of the red wall is something we are still talking about now. If I can take one thing from the general election in 2019 it was the lack of trust we had from people in so many ways.
“It was Brexit, the leadership and our policies that people could not trust and to deal with one of these issues in a campaign is tough, but to deal with all three was like tackling a tide you just cannot get through. I do think that the result was also a shock for the Conservative supporters as well.”
She believes that complacency had set into the party when it came to red wall seats, which is why not only Leigh, but a number of other post-industrial towns, had a similar fate. She wants her party, even if she does not become their next candidate, to work to regain the trust of Leythers.
Before becoming Leigh’s MP, Jo served as a councillor for Astley Mosley Common from 2012 until 2017 and wanted to continue to fight for local issues in Parliament but saw her tenureship dominated by Brexit. She believes the focus should be brought back to this in Leigh.
“People in Leigh feel they have been let down,” she continued. “We want to get back to the issues everyone is feeling day to day.
“We see so much homelessness, antisocial behaviour, and drug and alcohol problems. This can all be connected to mental health issues and the problems going on with services at the moment.
“We need someone in parliament who is connected to these issues who can help tackle them for the community. That is what is important to me.”
Ms Platt believes the £20m in levelling up funding would “not even touch the sides” for Leigh and real change needs to be implemented in order to create a true level playing field. She wants to see a Labour government back in power so that change can be done effectively.
One issue that is sure to crop up when the next general election comes around will be Lexit – Leigh’s exit from Wigan. Ms Platt’s stance on this issue, which Leigh’s current Conservative MP James Grundy is all for, is that she wants to see some data and facts about what this would mean for the area before she would support it.
With the cost of living crisis currently going on, she explained that although she respects and supports Leigh’s independent identity, she would not want to push through something that could lead to constituents worse off. She “wants to know the financial impacts” of something like this before she would campaign for it – to which nothing has been tabled as of yet.
But the candidacy won’t be a shoe-in for Ms Platt. Senior Labour councillor Nazia Rehman recently announced that she had been “long-listed.”