Avoiding a hard Brexit, remaining part of the single market and prioritising local issues are the election promises forming the campaign agenda for Lewisham West and Penge’s new Labour candidate Ellie Reeves.
In an exclusive interview with Eastlondonlines, Reeves said Labour would: “Negotiate to remain a part of the single market to secure jobs and prosperity for people in Lewisham West and Penge and guarantee the rights of the three million EU citizens living in this country.”
Locally, Reeves promised to campaign for the extension of both the Bakerloo line and Tramlink, pledging that: “Commuters deserve a better deal.”
With regard to housing, Reeves said: “Labour stands for building one million new homes and also giving renters more security with things like rent controls.”
On the subject of education, the mother-of-one said: “Schools are seeing their budgets cut year on year. We will invest in education to ensure that class sizes are reduced. We would also give every primary school child a free school dinner.”
News of Reeves’s candidacy came just last week (April 26).
Delighted to have been selected as the @UKLabour candidate in Lewisham West & Penge – the area that I live in and that I love.
— ellie reeves (@elliereeves) April 26, 2017
Labour selected Reeves – a law employment barrister who lives within the constituency – to replace longstanding MP Jim Dowd, who served Lewisham West and Penge for 25 years.
But what should be a time of celebration for the mother of one – who is also the vice chair of the London Labour Party – has been quite the opposite.
The way in which Reeves was selected was met with criticism by Channel 4’s political correspondent Michael Crick via Twitter.
Last week, Crick tweeted Reeves: “Congratulations, but please tell us how many people sat on committee which picked you and who they were?”
One user, who is thought to have been referring to her sibling, former shadow cabinet minister Rachel Reeves, responded: “Don’t forget to ask: ‘And did any of them have the same surname as you?’”
— Michael Crick (@MichaelLCrick) April 26, 2017
Reeves, who is also an ex-NEC member, will be standing against Liberal Democrat candidate John Russell who on April 28 informed Eastlondonlines that, if elected, would, like Reeves, fight against a hard Brexit for the people of Lewisham West and Penge.
Among the local issues that voters will want resolved is the threat of funding cuts to Forest Hill boys’ school. Recently local parents and teachers have campaigned against cuts – totalling £1.3m.
Those concerned will hope that whoever is elected to represent the borough will join councillors Paul Bell and Alan Hall in continuing to add pressure on the local authority to address and help solve the issue.
In Lewisham’s other constituencies, Labour’s Vicky Foxcroft and Heidi Alexander hope to retain their seats. Challengers to Alexander’s majority include UKIP’s Anne Marie Walters, director of Sharia Watch UK.
Last Thursday (April 27) the Green Party selected candidates for all three of Lewisham’s constituencies while the Conservatives have yet to declare any.
Delighted we’ve chosen Karen Wheller for West & Penge, Brockley councillor John Coughlin for Lewisham Deptford & @stormpoorun for East
— Lewisham Green Party (@lewgreenparty) April 27, 2017
However, in a letter to Eastlondonlines, Ross Archer, Conservative candidate for Lewisham Mayor, said: “Locally the Labour party is in chaos… You must vote Conservative on June 8.”