Meet the Labour candidate competing to become Wakefield’s next MP

The Labour candidate chosen to stand in the Wakefield by-election said he is determined to win the seat for locals who are “in desperate need for someone to represent them” in Parliament.

Simon Lightwood was recently selected to compete in the election on June 23, and he will be aiming to win back the seat Labour held for 89 years before a shock defeat in the 2019 General Election.

It comes after Tory Imran Ahmad Khan resigned as the Wakefield MP earlier this month, after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy during a trial at Southwark Crown Court.

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Mr Lightwood said: “I am laser focused on winning the seat back for Labour and winning the seat back for the people of Wakefield, who have had no voice for the last year and are in desperate need of someone to represent them down in Parliament

Labour candidate Simon Lightwood

“My focus is very much on the people of Wakefield and making sure they get the support and representation that they need.”

The 42-year-old, who currently works as the Head of Communications for Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, said he was “overwhelmed and thrilled” to be selected as the Labour candidate.

He previously worked for Mary Creagh when she was the Labour MP for Wakefield.

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Mr Lightwood was chosen over trade unionist Kate Dearden by party members on Sunday, but the entire executive committee of Wakefield’s local Labour group resigned in a row over the selection process.

They claim Labour’s National Executive Committee intervened in the process and ensured all local candidates were “stripped out”.

Mr Lightwood, who lived in Wakefield for 10 years before he moved to Calderdale so his husband could be closer to work, said the resignations were “really unfortunate” but he remains “completely focused” on his campaign.

He said: “I’ve just come upstairs to do this interview and downstairs was packed full of Labour councillors and Labour members who are determined and united to deliver a Labour Party victory here in Wakefield, so we can do the job and give people a voice in Parliament by turning Wakefield red again.”

Mr Lightwood has been busy campaigning since his selection, and claims the main issue people are raising on the doorsteps is the soaring cost of living.

He said people are “really scared” and he can empathise with them, as his family “really struggled to make ends meet” when he was growing up.

He said: “I can really connect with voters because I've walked in their shoes, and I think that's really important that they have someone who understands exactly what they're going through. They're not just saying it, they have lived it.”

The Labour candidate said he will look to help the people of Wakefield with the cost of living, if he is elected, and work to improve public transport and reduce fares, secure additional funding for West Yorkshire Police and tackle anti-social behaviour.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has thrown his support behind Mr Lightwood, after they met in Wakefield earlier today.

Sir Keir said: “What we have in Simon is someone who lived in Wakefield for 10 years, bought his first house in Wakefield, fell in love in Wakefield and joined the Labour Party in Wakefield.

“What he will give Wakefield is a powerful voice in Parliament.

“What Wakefield has had for the last 12 months is no representation at all, if you can believe it.”