Corby’s Labour general election 'underdog' says constituency vote will be a close contest

Labour's Beth Miller, who is aiming to swipe the marginal Corby and East Northants seat from under the incumbent Conservative's nose says that every vote will count in next month's ballot.

Wednesday, 27th November 2019, 8:56 am
Updated Wednesday, 27th November 2019, 3:03 pm
Labour's candidate for Corby and East Northants Beth Miller
Labour's candidate for Corby and East Northants Beth Miller

The politician knows that unseating Tom Pursglove from the constituency he has represented since 2015 won't be a walk in the park. But she hopes to become the first person who grew up in Corby to represent the town in Parliament.

"We've had a really positive reaction on the doorstep," she said.

"After a decade of Conservative rule people are telling us they want some sort of change.

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"We have to be realistic. I know I'm the underdog but we think this seat is up for grabs.

"We're speaking to a large number of people who voted Conservative last time but say they'll vote Labour at this election."

She believes that people are keen for a local person to represent them in Parliament and her supporters have been engaged in a social media war of words with those of her political rivals over her heritage.

"People do think I'm making a big thing of this but although our MP wasn't born here, he keeps saying he was," said Ms Miller.

"This would be the first time Corby people have had one of our own representing us."

Ms Miller, who went to Brooke Weston Academy, has faced criticism as she now lives in London part-time as she works for David Blunkett at the House of Lords - a job from which she is taking a hiatus while she campaigns for the general election.

"I do work down there during the week," said Ms Miller, who shares London home with her fiance Liam, also from Corby.

"I'd commute from Corby but I can't afford the thousands it would cost for a train season ticket.

"But I do own a house in Corby and I am back here when I'm not working. This is my home. This is where we want to live and eventually bring up our children.

"I would be easy to just go and find a safe Labour seat to contest but I want to represent Corby."

There were just 2,700 votes in it at the 2017 election and Ms Miller says her team have knocked on 5,000 doors during this campaign.

Her rivals in the Conservative party have also been pounding the streets of the town daily since the election was announced. One topic that comes up time and again is Brexit.

Mr Pursglove has pledged to 'get Brexit done' but, despite only 36 per cent of people in Corby and East Northants voting to stay in the EU, remainer Ms Miller he says that she would back a controversial second referendum to allow the people to have a say on the type of deal that the UK leaves with.

She admitted people are getting fed up with Brexit.

"It's not ideal to have a second vote," she said.

"But another referendum giving the option to remain or back the deal would give both sides the chance to look at a deal and make an informed choice and find some way forward."

Last year, Ms Miller campaigned for the return of a police station to Corby, which was believed to be one of the largest in the UK without a police station. The Elizabeth Street station had originally closed in 2017 during Mr Pursglove's tenure, which she said made it all the more galling when he celebrated the successful campaign to reopen a base in the town in September.

"Back when I first started looking at the issue, he wasn't talking about it. It was all about squash courts," said Ms Miller.

"We found out that response times had increased, especially in rural areas of East Northamptonshire, since the station closure and I spoke to pub owners who were being burgled constantly because the police couldn't get there in time.

"It was clear that the closure had had a big effect."

Ms Miller started a petition to get the police station reopened and, although a base did later open at the Corby Cube, she would like to see a full time police station back in the town. She also believes that there may be a case for Corby - the fastest growing borough outside of London - to get its own hospital.

She has also backed people living on the Priors Hall estate who are calling for a change in the law over new homes standards after they were let down by Larkfleet Homes, and has spoken to Little Stanion Residents who are being stung twice for service charges.

In 2016 Ms Miller was one of the signatories on a letter asking Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to resign. But now she says that she believes the party's election manifesto offers a chance of real change.

"People really care about Labour's pledge to fund 1,000 new Surestart Centres," she said.

"It's an issue that's very close to my heart. We have a high level of deprivation in some of our communities and it will be a lifeline for them.

"I think our manifesto out-greens the Green Party. Our targets on climate change are incredibly ambitious."

She is also a keen supporter of equal pay and says that, if elected, she would campaign for fairer pay and working conditions for women.

"The gender pay gap gets worse when you have children," she said.

"It's time that both men and women took equal responsibility for childcare and that should be reflected in terms of pay and conditions."