Labour has stepped up its bid to win Southport from the Lib Dems in the General Election by opening a campaign headquarters in the town centre. Newly elected Liverpool City Region Mayor, Steve Rotherham, was on hand to officially open the Southport Labour group's pop-up HQ in Wayfarers Arcade.
Labour's Southport candidate, Liz Savage, said she'd been overwhelmed by the support and enthusiasm from Labour supporters to take the hotly contested seat. After doubling their share of the vote in 2015, Labour now believes it's a three-way split between the main parties.
"I made significant gains last time and only 5 in 100 Southport voters need to switch their vote for us to win," says Liz, who runs a slimming consultancy in the town, "Southport's A&E is under imminent threat due to Tory plans, our schools are under pressure, our children face very bleak prospects and after years of the Lib Dems holding this seat there's been little benefit to the town."
The opening of the town centre shop is seen as a real statement of intent by Labour and the 43-year-old-mother-of-two expects it will have surprised her opponents:
"For too long Southport was seen as a contest between Lib Dem and Tory but things are changing, they have changed. Our membership here is now four times that of the Lib Dems and many local people are rightly horrified by Theresa May's surge to the right. Five out of the seven Southport wards voted for Labour and Steve in the Liverpool City Region Mayor election and we had nearly 20 per cent more votes than the Tories. Southport chose Labour, and by some margin."
She also dismisses talk of tactical voting:
"It is an even fight now, and we can win it. My advice to voters would be; look at our manifesto, look at the equality it promises. Do you want us or the Tories, who have slashed vital services but given massive tax breaks to the rich and still run up the national debt? And never forget it was the Lib Dems who enabled the current period of Tory rule."
The prospect of a Labour MP for Southport also means the chance of greater opportunities for cooperating on Southport's regeneration according to Liverpool City region Mayor Steve Rotherham:
"It would be a pleasure to work with Southport's first Labour MP in developing the Liverpool City Region. Having an MP in Southport who very clearly shares my values and supports the vision spelled out in my manifesto would be great. A vote for Liz and Labour really counts in Southport on June 8th."
Liz agrees, "A Labour MP would be a great bonus for Southport and I'd encourage anyone who is curious, pop into the shop and say hi. We are very proud of the manifesto we have to offer and the change and equality it offers. We are certain that we can help Southport. Our message is simple: if we win, you win!"