DERBYSHIRE ELECTIONS: High profile visits prove county is key battleground

The UK’s political top brass have flocked to Derbyshire during this year’s election campaigns, potentially showing how key a contest it may prove to be – as votes are counted today.

By Eddie Bisknell
Friday, 7th May 2021, 8:31 am
Updated Friday, 7th May 2021, 8:50 am

Over the past few weeks, the Prime Minister, Health Secretary, Home Secretary, Local Government Secretary, Northern Ireland Secretary, the opposition leader, opposition deputy leader and shadow transport minister have all visited Derbyshire.

They’ve made visits to go leafleting and go to businesses and vaccination centres with candidates for local council elections and also Police and Crime Commissioner candidates for the county and city.

All of this has been aimed at boosting the hopes of the respective candidate for each party, primarily the Conservatives and Labour.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson feeds a lamb during a visit to the Moor Farm in Stoney Middleton as part of the election campaign

Areas which attract more visits from high-profile politicians during an election campaign are typically those which are most pivotal or marginal, either with a contest in the balance or where a gain or loss would be more influential.

The first visit to the county was from opposition leader, Labour’s Keir Starmer on March 4, while not strictly campaigning, the visit saw Sir Keir visit Royal Derby Hospital and train manufacturer Alstom, formerly Bombardier, talking about hospital waiting lists, thanking NHS staff and aiming for the city’s economy to bounce back after the pandemic.

Next up was Conservative Priti Patel, the UK’s Home Secretary, who visited the Petersham division in Erewash on April 8, along with local council candidates and the Tory’s PCC candidate, Angelique Foster.

After this was a visit on April 13 from Labour’s Kerry McCarthy, shadow transport secretary, who visited Ilkeston to talk about the condition of the county’s roads.

On April 21, Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader visited Ladycross Care Home in Sandiacre to talk about care home closure plans brought and ditched by the county council last year.

Derbyshire had two high-profile visits on April 23.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Longstone Moor Farm in Stoney Middleton to talk about support for the UK’s farming community and the plight of farmers post-Brexit.

Meanwhile, on the same day, Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, visited Buxton to talk about the town securing millions of pounds for regeneration.

Labour leader Sir Keir visited Derbyshire for a second time on April 24, attending an Ilkeston Town FC football match and stopping by Heanor Town FC, talking about grassroots sport, opposition to the controversial European Super League and rebuilding Labour trust in the region.

On April 30, Conservative Brandon Lewis, the UK’s Northern Ireland Secretary, visited Darley Dale to help leaflet with local candidates.

On May 4, Derbyshire had another two visits from high-ranking politicians.

Matt Hancock, the UK’s Health Secretary, visited Pinxton in Bolsover district, to visit a vaccination centre.

He also met with county council leader, Cllr Barry Lewis

Derbyshire County Council is currently in Conservative control, holding 36 out of 64 seats, followed by Labour with 24, the Liberal Democrats with three seats and one vacancy.

The county and city’s current PCC is Labour’s Hardyal Dhindsa. His fellow election rivals are Conservative Angelique Foster, Lib Dem Stan Heptinstall and Reform UK candidate Tim Prosser.

Derbyshire went to the polls yesterday, with results from the county council and PCC elections expected throughout today.