Labour leader hopeful, Sir Keir Starmer, visited Oldham last weekend to pull in support for his campaign that looks to the future.
Sir Keir addressed activists at the Mechanics Institute in Manchester city centre last Saturday before heading across to Oldham for a wander.
First on the itinerary of Sir Keir’s fifth visit to Oldham was a stop off at Primrose Bank community centre, where he joined Oldham West and Royton MP Jim McMahon for a food preparation session.
Aside from showing off his culinary skills, Sir Keir was also taken for a tour of the facility, run by Primrose Bank Community Association.
Hailed as an important community-based hub, the centre helps young people and parents in the area by providing tutoring, health and wellbeing activities, healthy eating courses and arts and crafts projects.
The centre was an ideal stop-off point for Sir Keir, whose dominant message in his leadership bid has been re-generation and looking to what local communities like Oldham have to offer the country as a whole going forwards.
MP Debbie Abrahams, who later met with Sir Keir, said: “Keir, who gained vast experience of leadership as Director of Public Prosecutions, has great integrity and appeal which is recognised across the party, along with the natural ability to relate to people across the UK, as he’s shown in his many visits to Oldham and other northern towns in recent years.
“We need a leader who will help us engage with, and empower our communities, and Keir is the person to make this happen.”
The MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth was joined by Oldham Council Leader, Cllr Sean Fielding, before accompanying Sir Keir and McMahon for a walk around Oldham town centre, where they chatted with members of the public and stopped off at the renovated town hall.
Sir Keir is challenging five other candidates, including Salford and Eccles MP Rebecca Long-Bailey, for the leadership role, however Oldham’s leading figures believe that the former barrister is the right man for the job.
McMahon said: “He [Sir Keir] has demonstrated over the last three years his leadership skills, but most importantly his ability to listen to what it is people want. The Labour Party isn’t going to win back those seats that turned blue for the first time in 2019 if we don’t listen to what it is the people want.”
Cllr Fielding said: “Last month many places not too dissimilar to Oldham chose not to vote Labour for the first time in a long time, ever in some cases. It’s absolutely critical that whoever is the next Leader of the Labour Party is comes to towns like Oldham and listens to what people have to say.”
Sir Keir was knighted in 2014 for his services to law and criminal justice after a successful five years as the director of Public Prosecutions.
Regaining the Labour heartlands by re-uniting the party and promoting optimism is a key message in Sir Keir’s bid in the leadership race, which will be decided on 4 April.
His whistle-stop tour on Saturday has shown that, by urging post-industrial towns like Oldham to have their voices heard, look to the future and show their potential.
(from left to right) Cllr Sean Fielding, Keir Starmer, Debbie Abrahams and Jim McMahon.