Election Interview: Tony Wilson, Labour candidate for Hazel Grove
In the run up to December's General Election, our election correspondent Joshua Sandiford will be creating profiles of key marginal constituencies around the country, combining the key statistics with interviews with the major candidates. In this article, Joshua interviews Tony Wilson, Labour candidate for Hazel Grove.
Hazel Grove has traditionally been seen as a two way marginal between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.
The Greater Manchester constituency in Stockport hasn’t returned a Labour MP since it was established in 1974, but trade unionist Tony Wilson is hoping he can turn this around.
He says that the working people of Hazel Grove are “desperately” in need of a "transformative Labour government" and has gained support from members, trade unionists and activists for his campaign.
On his campaign website, Wilson outlines his experience of campaigns “against outsourcing/privatisation…better public transport and of course individual member representation.”
He also describes his vision for the future, arguing “it is clear to me we need to redress the balance of power in Britain today with a Labour government”, and praises Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for inspiring “many of us into action.”
It is clear to me we need to redress the balance of power in Britain today with a Labour government
Hazel Grove will be high on the list of key target seats of the Remain-supporting Liberal Democrats, despite voting 52 per cent to Leave, an outlier within the borough of Stockport which collectively voted to Remain.
According to Yougov’s MRP modelling, which correctly predicted the hung parliament of 2017, Hazel Grove is “likely” to be won by the Conservative candidate and incumbent MP, William Wragg.
Wragg is currently predicted to win 48 per cent of the vote, with the Liberal Democrat candidate, Lisa Smart, predicted to win 39 per cent. Tony Wilson is currently predicted a 13 per cent vote share.
However, these figures were published on the 27th November and as with all elections, everything and every prediction is liable to change.
Wilson tells The Parliamentary Review that the start of the campaign has been “quite hectic” and that he has enjoyed getting out and speaking to people.
Prior to announcing his candidacy, Wilson worked as an IT worker and is a member of the UNISON trade union, the largest trade union in the UK with almost 1.4 million members.
As soon as the election was called, many speculated that Labour and the Liberal Democrats would be in direct opposition, with both trying to persuade Remainers to back their party.
Indeed, this idea has led for some to call for a “Remain Alliance”, with candidates from both parties stepping aside in certain constituencies, where their parties traditionally have a smaller vote share, to ensure a Remain-backing candidate is elected.
According to Wilson, Hazel Grove fits this theory.
Asked what reaction was like on the doorstep, Wilson described the “good response” he had received and added that he had been “convincing some people who were going to vote Lib Dem to vote Labour.”
More widely, when asked how the residents of his potential constituency are currently feeling, Wilson outlined the “uncertainty” felt by many and argued that people were “worried about the direction the Tories would take us in if they formed the next government.”
[People are] worried about the direction the Tories would take us in if they formed the next government.
To understand the motivations behind Wilson’s decision to stand, we asked him two key questions about his constituency.
Firstly, we asked him to name his favourite thing about his local area to which he swiftly replied “the people.”
We also asked him what message he would send to his prospective constituents. Addressing them directly, Wilson stated: “It would be an honour and a privilege if they put their trust in me to represent them.”