BRIDGET Phillipson is on course to become one of Britain’s youngest MPs after winning the fight to become Labour’s candidate for the new Houghton and Sunderland South seat.
The 25-year-old from Columbia, Washington, beat off the challenges of Unison regional head of health Liz Twist and former MP Barbara Roche in an all-women shortlist.
Boundary changes being brought in for the next election created the Houghton and Sunderland South seat out of Fraser Kemp’s Houghton and Washington East constituency, plus part of Chris Mullin’s Sunderland South constuency. Both Mr Kemp and Mr Mullin are standing down at the next election. The new seat is expected to be one of the safest Labour seats in England.
The decision to select Ms Phillipson was made at a party meeting held at Herrington Burn YMCA, Houghton-le-Spring on Saturday. Ms Phillipson, the daughter of Claire Phillipson, director of Wearside Women in Need, works as manager of one of the organisation’s women’s refuges.
She said: “Working at the refuge makes me realise how much more needs to be done to help victims of domestic violence.
“Victims come from all walks of life, from a five-bedroom detached house in a leafy suburb to a rundown terraced street.
“They are often left not just homeless but without means of support or family help when they finally decide to leave an abusive partner.”
She has been a member of the Labour Party for 10 years since she was a pupil at St Robert’s School, Washington.
A former chair of Oxford University Labour Club, Ms Phillipson has also represented the region on the Labour Party’s National Policy Forum. She is due to marry fiance Lawrence later this year.
She said: “Following Fraser Kemp will be a hard act to follow but I’m looking forward to the campaign. Growing up in Thatcher’s Britain and witnessing its injustices first hand I was determined to make a difference. Labour has made real changes to improve people’s lives here in the last 12 years but I know there is a lot more to be done.
“I want to play a part in making this community a better place for everyone that lives here. The Labour party needs to become more accountable to the local community. By being a young candidate I hope I can reach out to all spectrums of society including under 30s who may be disenchanted with politics.”
Joan Carthy, chair of the Houghton and Sunderland South Labour Party said: “I know Labour Party members here in the constituency are eager now to get out there and campaign to make Bridget Phillipson our next Member of Parliament.
Mr Kemp said: “I’m sure that she will make an excellent candidate and, when elected, she will be a very hard-working Member of Parliament.”
Contest called off
THE Labour Party called off a candidate selection hustings planned for the weekend after discovering a ballot box had been tampered with.
The process for choosing a prospective parliamentary candidate for Erith and Thamesmead is expected to run for weeks longer as postal ballot papers will need to be reissued.
An investigation has also been launched by Labour’s general secretary, Ray Collins, after it emerged a ballot box seal had been broken.
The selection process has been mired in controversy since it was taken over by the central party machine, sparking complaints of interference in favour of non "local" candidates such as Georgia Gould, the 22-year-old daughter of New Labour polling guru Lord Gould.
Whoever wins will inherit a Labour majority in the seat of more than 10,000, even allowing for boundary changes.