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Why Erdington will be key battleground during General Election

Ton Watson kicks start Labour campaign in Jack Dromey constituency

There can be no doubt that Erdington is Birmingham’s key election battleground after Labour deputy leader Tom Watson turned up to kick start the campaign.

He joined Labour MP Jack Dromey who is defending the Erdington seat he won with a 5,129 vote majority two years ago.

But he faces a stiff challenge from the Tories who have recently picked up previously safe Labour council seats in the area and are looking to exploit Labour’s poor poll showing.

Deputy leader Watson, the West Bromwich West MP, and MP Dromey were in cheerful mood as they toured small shops and businesses on Slade Road - one of Birmingham’s most cosmopolitan streets with white British, African-Caribbean, Irish, Polish and Kashmiri communities living side by side.

Mr Watson denied this was a sign that Labour was on the defensive when, as opposition, it should be attacking Conservative seats.

Richard Swingler

He said it was simply because, being a snap election, they did not have candidates confirmed for seats they did not already hold.

That would happen very quickly, he added.

And they were asked if they backed Jeremy Corbyn to be Prime Minister - as he was not their first choice as leader.

Mr Watson said: “We’ve had a tough 18 months, that’s plain to see, but we are united now.

“We’re going to give people a choice. As Jeremy said, we’re going to rip up the rule book and challenge privilege and the elites, those people in big corporations who aren’t paying taxes.”

Mr Dromey added that, given a straight choice between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, “I prefer the Labour man.”

Richard Swingler

They toured small businesses, including a hairdressers, launderette, dry cleaners, off licence and chicken take away and insisted they were the party of small businesses like these - painting the Tories as the party of large corporations.

Mr Watson added that Labour was the only party with an economic strategy to deal with growing automation - known as the fourth industrial revolution - and the impact it would have on jobs and people.

Labour are putting a lot of resources to defend Erdington to head off a strong challenge from the Conservative opposition leader on Birmingham City Council Robert Alden.

His success in grass roots campaigning in council elections in white, working class areas like Kingstanding and Erdington has been held up by the Prime Minister’s Birmingham-born adviser Nick Timothy as the way Tories can gain ground in big cities.

Darren Quinton Tory leader Coun Robert Alden
Tory leader Coun Robert Alden

Cllr Alden, said: “It is a huge honour to have been selected to stand in the Erdington. This area is my home. My family and I live near Erdington High Street so I know the issues we face locally, I use the same services as other residents. I will be Erdington’s MP in Westminster, unlike currently where we have Jeremy Corbyn’s London MP representing Erdington”.

He added: “This election residents have a clear choice between backing Theresa May and local Conservatives who have a plan for Brexit that works for the residents of Erdington and Kingstanding or Jeremy

“Corbyn’s Labour candidate. Only a vote for the Conservatives will deliver strong and stable leadership in the national interest, delivering a Brexit which works for Erdington, Birmingham and the country”.

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