Labour chooses candidate to replace MP Angela Smith in Penistone and Stocksbridge
A youth and community worker has been chosen as Labour's candidate for Penistone and Stocksbridge, a key marginal seat at the next General Election.
Counillor Francyne Johnson was chosen by Sheffield party members on Thursday to defend Labour’s 1,322 vote majority in the constituency.
The area’s MP, Angela Smith, left the Labour party in February to join Change UK but began sitting as an independent in June.
Now, having switched allegiances to the Liberal Democrats, Ms Smith has announced she will challenge Conservative Sir Graham Brady in his Altrincham and Sale West seat, near Manchester, in the next General Election.
Speaking after the selection, Coun Johnson said: “The Tories are destroying the fabric of our society. The next general election is our last opportunity to rescue our NHS, tackle the climate crisis and to invest in our public services which have been ground down after a decade of austerity and privatisation.
“I come from a working-class background and have worked in retail, catering and cleaning. I know what it’s like trying to raise a family on a low income. It’s so vital that we have more MPs with this experience - they are meant to represent us after all.
“People in Penistone and Stocksbridge have been let down badly by the Tories and the Lib Dems. The more rural areas like ours are really hit hard by the cuts. Only a Labour government will get the funding we need into our public transport, our schools and our NHS.”
The Conservative candidate for the seat in Penistone and Stocksbridge is Miriam Cates, a one-time science teacher and mother-of-three who works as finance director at a software company and serves as a parish councillor for Oughtibridge.
Ms Cates has received some high profile backing in recent weeks having been seen during a walkabout with Prime Minister Boris Johnson when he visited South Yorkshire.
She also sat next to him at party conference during a speech by Chancellor Sajid Javid.
Other confirmed candidates for the area include Liberal Democrat Hannah Kitching, a councillor for Penistone West in Barnsley Council who, along with her husband, owns a manufacturing firm exporting steel products.
The Brexit Party's candidate is John Booker, who hit the headlines earlier this year after sharing and liking a series of Islamophobic Facebook posts, and Richard Trotman will be standing for the Green Party.