1. ITV Report

Trudy Harrison praises May in Conservative forum speech

Trudy Harrison. Credit: PA

Copeland's new Conservative MP has praised the Prime Minister Theresa May, in her speech at the party's Spring Forum.

Last month Trudy Harrison won the seat from Labour, who had held it for decades.

In today's speech in Cardiff, Harrison said her constituents had been ignored by Labour for too long.

She pledged to "deliver" on her plan, but did not directly mention two of the key issues she campaigned on: healthcare and the nuclear industry.

This is her speech in full:

Almost 10 years ago I returned home from work one evening to find my four daughters in tears. The front page of the local paper reported that our village primary school, the school that they had all attended, was facing closure. With tearful eyes my girls said to me “you’ve got to do something” and it was that moment which led me down the path to standing here in front of you today.

It is not often Copeland makes the national news but what happened just under a month ago in the area I have always called home was a truly historic event that will earn us a place in the history books.

You would have to go back more than a century to find an example of a governing party taking a seat from the opposition in a comparable election.

Given the current state of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party it would be easy to put this victory down to a failing opposition that does not speak for ordinary working people. Of course that helped, and I was certainly aided by the Labour leader’s unwillingness to sing our national anthem. But it should not be underestimated how much of an effect that our Prime Minister, Theresa May, has in areas where we may have struggled in the past, areas like Copeland.

Theresa May is speaking for ordinary working families and they are listening.

The prime minister’s plan for our country tackles the issues that they’re concerned about.

After more than 80 years of Labour neglect, the people of Copeland were ready for change- they were sick of being left behind.

They had been ignored and forgotten by the Labour Party for too long.

Ignored and forgotten when it came to getting investment into our area.

Ignored and forgotten when it came to getting the jobs and skills for our young people.

So they decided to put their faith in something, someone, different.

And that is exactly what I, and what we, the Conservative Party, represent. People voted for a party that is on the side of ordinary working people. A party which will respect the way we voted in the referendum. But most importantly, a party committed to building a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.

It was those words, a country that works for everyone, spoken by the Prime Minister outside Downing Street that first inspired me to join the party. Yes Conference, you’re right that does mean I only joined the party last year but I have always held Conservative values and voted Conservative. But it was hearing Theresa May acknowledge the struggles faced by many working families across the United Kingdom and promise to do something about them, that made me want to stand up and be counted.

Her speech took me straight back to that fateful day 10 years ago where I was faced with a choice. Do I continue as normal? Or do I take action and help secure our village for my girls and future generations?

Well, as I’m sure you have worked out, I chose to take action…

And I haven’t stopped since.

I worked hard to secure the largest ever mixed-use development, in the Lake District National Park’s history. This was a truly transformative event for our community. I gave the planners a choice - be the death nail in our coffin, or the key to our future.

The consent was granted and has helped to attract the millions of pounds of investment to breathe new life into Bootle for future generations.

And of course, together, we saved the school. It makes me very proud to say Captain Shaw’s is now the fastest growing school in Cumbria. And it was an honour to be able to take the Prime Minister there during my campaign to see the scale of change for herself.

Achieving all that for just one small part of West Cumbria demonstrates what is possible when you have the right voice championing your area. That is why I decided to stand in the by-election.

I campaigned in communities right across Copeland with a six-point plan to tackle the local issues that have been ignored and forgotten by the Labour Party for too long.

And I am pleased to say that local people backed my plan.

Since I was elected, just over three weeks ago, I’m already working to deliver on my plan to tackle the issues that were ignored under labour for so long.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you, the volunteers and activists, for your support and dedication. Members from across the country gave up their time to help with my campaign to ensure people in every corner of my vast West Cumbrian constituency backed my six-point plan for Copeland. You played a massive part in helping the Party to make history.

Areas across the country are in need of a strong representative who can make their voice heard. Only with the vital support of you Conference, can we help them achieve that.

It is an enormous honour to have been elected to represent the area I call home, and to have delivered a historic victory for the Conservative Party. A victory that was only made possible through the hard work and support of our Party.

– Trudy Harrison