COVENTRY kid Mary Creagh MP is bidding to become leader of the Labour party by reaching out to so-called “Middle England”.
If successful, she would become the most high-profile national politician with Coventry connections since the late Mo Mowlam, who grew up in the city and attended Coundon Court School.
Established Commons frontbencher Mrs Creagh attended Bishop Ullathorne School before winning a scholarship to Oxford,
then became a London councillor.
The 47-year-old daughter of an Irish Coventry factory worker and a primary school teacher has been MP for Wakefield since 2005.
She named her son Clement after the former Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee, and daughter Beatrice is thought to be named after celebrated socialist Beatrice Webb.
Last week, she threw her hat into the ring to replace Ed Miliband following Labour’s defeat at the general election and his resignation.
As with rival contenders, she has moved to distance herself from Mr Miliband and her party’s previous stance, presenting herself as a pro-business moderniser.
She backed Gordon Brown as leader in 2007 and supported David Miliband’s failed attempt to beat his brother to the leadership in 2010.
She is highly regarded in the party and last year became shadow international development secretary after a stint as shadow environment, food and rural affairs secretary.
In that previous post, she returned to her home city to speak at a public meeting about issues including supermarket food waste, food banks and poverty.
Her rivals in the race so far include Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall – after widely-tipped Chuka Umunna pulled out days after entering the race.
She once hit the headlines when claiming Thomas the Tank Engine was sexist, and to blame for the lack of female train drivers.
She is also an established peformer on BBC TV’s ‘Question Time’ programme.
Her proclaimation the party needs to win back “Middle England” comes after voters in Warwickshire constituencies Nuneaton, and North Warwickshire became centre-stage in the General Election. Declarations in those seats provided the first indications of how marginal seats were swinging so unexpectedly to the Conservatives.
Despite the high significance of the Scottish factor – with the SNP winning 56 of Scotland’s 59 seats, and the Conservative campaign stoking up concerns about a Labour government supported by the SNP – Mrs Creagh claims the party was out of tune with voters’ “aspiration to earn money and provide a better life for their family”.
Her emphasis for the Labour leadership has so far been on issues of the economy.
She said: “People trust Labour to look after their schools, hospitals and council services.
“But they simply do not trust us to run the economy and make them better off. That must change.
Mrs Creagh added: “Labour lost the General Election because people did not trust us with the economy.”
The new leader and deputy leader will be announced on September 12.
Each candidate needs the support of at least 35 Labour MPs by June 15 to stand in the leadership election.
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