Election Special: Conservatives, Trudy Harrison interview

Rachael Grealish: Going back to the beginning, why did you get into politics? And Why the Conservative Party?

Trudy Harrison: It is in fact, my predecessor, Jamie Reed who inspired my introduction to politics.
The very first parliamentary debate I ever watched was a Westminster Hall debate called upon by Jamie to discuss the future of my four daughter’s school, Captain Shaw’s in Bootle.
After seeing the positive impact that MPs in Westminster could have on their local communities and the powerful influence their support can play, even in remote areas, which I had previously felt would never be anyone’s political priority, I felt empowered to put myself forward to be the strong voice Copeland would need after Jamie stepped down in January.
I have always been highly involved with my local community, acting as school governor at Captain Shaw’s school and a parish councillor, as well as helping community groups plan and fund their local projects.
All of these roles combined have played a significant part in my interest of politics and have ultimately helped steer me in the right direction.

RG: You were successful in winning the Copeland seat in the by-election, earlier this year, how does it feel to have to defend your win?

TH: Although Theresa May announced a General Election just 54 days into my Parliamentary term, I am utterly committed to Copeland, its people and potential and, if elected, I will fight hard to deliver every aspect of my six point plan.
I will be campaigning non-stop over the next three weeks, visiting every village and every town in the constituency to meet with local residents, to let them know I am here to represent them, and to deal with any issues or concerns they may have. Meeting and speaking with residents on their doorsteps reinforces my message and is the very best way to understand the issues of most concern.

RG: How successful do you think you have been as an MP, during the short time in the role?

TH: While my term in office can only be described short, my achievements in Parliament were not.
From the very start of my term, I sought meetings with Ministers in every governmental department, industry officials and local businesses. I welcomed the Secretary of State for Transport to highlight the issues surrounding our infrastructure here in Copeland, I met with the head teacher of Whitehaven Academy, and management, clinicians and staff at West Cumberland Hospital and have already seen some fantastic progress.
We now have a fully staffed maternity department, the Trust has been removed from special measures and in addition to the £90m already invested by this Government, and we have the funding secured for the final stage of the hospital’s construction.
My team is now in place, recruited for their local knowledge, Parliamentary experience and fierce determination to get on with the job and deliver for Copeland.

RG: In the by-election there was a big focus on nuclear, the NHS and education, what issues will you be highlighting and focusing on in the general?

TH: If re-elected on June 8th, I will be continuing my work on my six point plan to secure a nuclear new build at Moorside, improve mobile and internet connectivity, bring our road and rail network up to modern standards as well as building resilience against flooding.
Securing a bright future for our children and young people through delivering a range of apprenticeships, and to protect our local health and education services are key priorities. Each and every one of these promises still stands and if re-elected, I will be working hard to get the wheels in motion. Copeland has been my home since I was born, and I want the voice of our towns and rural communities to be heard.

RG: Brexit is a big issue nationwide, but how would intend to represent your constituency on the Brexit front?

TH: As we go through the process of leaving the European Union, I will act in the best interests of Copeland.
If elected, I will advocate our requirements in Parliament ensuring our voice is heard loud and clear and will communicate negotiations and decisions to support businesses as well as secure a better future for you, your family and Copeland.
This election is our chance to send a message that the EU referendum result must be respected, and to back Theresa May’s plan to deliver what local people voted for.

RG: What issue of the Conservative Party Manifesto do you support and what will you be focusing on?

TH: The Conservative Party’s manifesto promised a stronger economy, and a more prosperous future, a statement I wholly agree with. Copeland has been lacking in investment for many years, and if elected, my efforts will be spent supporting a world class nuclear and industrial future, safeguarding jobs, promoting our specialist skills and securing the investments Copeland has been so desperate for.
Protecting and improving essential health and education services along with our road, rail and connectivity will also be a priority.

RG: If the Conservatives are successful in the election, what would you like to see from the party, in reference to the benefit of Copeland?

TH: Following the release of the Conservatives Manifesto, I was pleased to see that £40 billion will be injected into transport improvements across the UK including managing pot holes and creating extra capacity on trains; news which has been long awaited, here in Copeland.
I was also delighted with the announcement that the Conservatives will increase school’s overall budget by £4 billion by 2022 which will see an increase in funding for all 50 of our local schools in Copeland

RG: The Prime Minister recently said that she had always been in favour of fox hunting, where do you stand on this issue?

TH: I am personally not supportive of fox hunting. I have never been fox hunting and do not want to.
However, foxes do need to be managed as they have no natural predator.
Living in the countryside, we must support our farming community and the current Hunting Act 2004 is widely regarded as requiring reform.
I would like to see an end to caged hens and an increase in free-range meats on our shelves.
The UK has some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world, labelling must be improved so we can better support British farmers.

RG: The Conservative party was rather successful, in Copeland, in the County Council elections, has this given you a boost or any encouragement for the general election?

TH: From being out on the campaign trail and meeting with local residents on their doorsteps, the response appears to be a very positive.
However, complacency is not an option.
This time around it is increasingly clear that people consider this to be an election about leadership, specifically a choice between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn. BREXIT remains a key issue, which is not surprising given that the overwhelming majority of residents voted to leave the EU in the referendum.
I will fight hard for my seat in this general election, and hope that the people of Copeland who elected me back in February will put their faith me in once again – my work for Copeland is far from finished.

RG: How would voting for you differ from voting from other parties and how would it benefit the constituency?

TH: A vote for me in the forthcoming General Election would mean a strong voice in Parliament for the people of Copeland and I will be working hard to ensure my constituents feel they have a reliable and efficient Member of Parliament who will get the job done.

RG: Why do you think the Copeland seat should stay Conservative?

TH: For more than 80 years, Copeland was held by Labour, but throughout my by-election campaign, it became very clear that Jeremy Corbyn did not represent Copeland’s constituents.
With Copeland on the brink of unprecedented change, the people of Copeland wanted a party that was on the side of ordinary working people, and one that respected the way we voted in the referendum – I believe that’s why they voted Conservative, and is why I think the Copeland seat should remain that way.
I have a lot of work to do, and I can only fight for the improvements and investments we need if I am elected.

RG: How confident are you, in yourself and in your supporters, that you can win this seat? And why?

TH: On February 24th, the people of Copeland put their faith in me to deliver and I hope that on Thursday 8th June 2017, they will vote once again.
What I managed to achieved in 60 days is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what I will achieve for Copeland, given another term in office. I am confident that, if elected, I can secure the investments and improvements we so desperately need.