"Can Labour win in Southport?" It's a question I've been asked in the past but this campaign it's different. It's no longer asked forlornly, it's asked with a real sense of hope... and there's a good reason for that.
This constituency is not the constituency of old, the boundaries might be the same but the people and attitudes within it are not.
The breakdown of the recent Liverpool City Region Mayoral election figures for Southport indicates a resounding surge in Labour support, with nearly 20 percent more votes than the Conservatives and over three times that of the Liberal Democrats.
The reasons behind these changes are varied but declining Lib-Dem support is evident. For many years, their argument was that only they could beat the Tories in Southport and for many years Labour supporters believed this and gave their votes to them. In 2010, however, the Lib-Dems went into coalition with the Conservatives and left a lingering sense of betrayal due to the period of brutal austerity which continues today.
They abandoned their central pledge to abolish tuition fees and instead tripled them and failed to side with Labour against devastating Tory cuts to our health and education services. The consequences of this have become sharply apparent in Southport recently; make no mistake, the threat to our local A&E Department has its roots in that coalition.
As a result, they have lost ground, both nationally and locally.
In 2015, the Labour vote here doubled as the Lib-Dems lost thousands of voters. There has been a surge in interest in Southport Labour and the party now has roughly four times as many members as the Liberal Democrats.
For this election perhaps you’ve seen our campaign HQ in Wayfarer’s Arcade? You might have noticed more Labour posters or garden signs? Your vote counts, and the Labour vote now really counts in Southport.
The most recent survey, by the Liverpool Echo, has us tied with the Tories at 26.4%, the Lib-Dems lagging way behind on 12.7%. The choice in Southport it seems is no longer Lib-Dem or Conservative, it is Labour or Conservative.
The Greens have recently announced their decision not to stand in Southport but most Green voters will realise that Labour is their natural second choice: we’ve made clear that we will ban fracking, our manifesto has a clear commitment to a low-carbon future for the UK.
For Lib-Dems in Southport, it's time to decide: Labour or Conservative? Do they want the Tories to win here? Do they want the continued rule of a Tory government that is causing so much division and hurt or do they want to choose Labour, which is promising much greater equality and a vision for our future they can share in?
The only way to elect a progressive government is to vote Labour. The only way to truly keep the Tories out in Southport is to vote for Liz Savage. Labour is now the tactical vote here. If we win, you win.
So, if anyone does ask this campaign "Can Labour win in Southport?", the answer is a resounding "Yes!"