WARWICK and Leamington was number 68 on Labour’s target list.
The constituency – the former seat of a Prime Minister – covers both towns, as well as the villages of Sherbourne, Barford, Wasperton, Norton Lindsey and Hatton.
And after a term and a half in Conservative hands of Chris White, there is a Labour man in the seat again. That man is Matt Western.
But who is he?
Matt Western is a relative novice politically, having elected to Warwickshire County Council’s Leamington Willes Division in 2013. Last month he was elected for a second term.
He worked for 24 years with car maker Peugeot in various management roles, specialising in finance and marketing, including a spell in the head office in Paris.
He has also recently started as a volunteer careers mentor at Campion School, as well as serving as a trustee of several local organisations and charities.
Matt lives in Leamington’s Old Town with the historian Rebecca Earle, who works at Warwick University.
He says he enjoys coffee and sport, as a keen cyclist and Arsenal FC fan.
Speaking ahead of polling day, he said: “As far back as 2006, long before I was elected councillor, I was campaigning with others on making our community better in calling for a sensible approach to licensing in our town centres (it led to the Saturation Policy that is still in place).
“Since then, I have committed myself to the area and for the past four years, as councillor, also to Warwickshire. In four short years, I have brought about some great changes to the county council and to the area I represent.
“My most significant contribution will see, potentially, every household in the county benefit from lower energy tariffs through the ‘Warwickshire Energy Plan’ and a new energy supply service due to go live this summer.
“It is aimed at eliminating energy poverty and increasing resilience and it should benefit every signed-up household with a reduction of up to £400 per year in people’s bills (source: OFGEM).
“It will also see a commitment to investing heavily in renewables here in Warwickshire. I’m particularly proud that the Party is now proposing that every area of the country should offer an equivalent service and that this has become an important element in the Party’s manifesto.
“Elsewhere, I have campaigned on education, the NHS and for better infrastructure and other services (U1 and no.67 buses). Throughout, I have been a strong voice for our area and for Warwickshire.”
The Warwick and Leamington constituency has, historically, been a Conservative stronghold and was briefly the seat of the Prime Minister.
Anthony Eden led the country between 1955 and 1957 when he quit due to ill-health after his controversial involvement in the Suez Crisis. He had been first elected in 1923.
The seat was then held between 1968 and 1997 by Dudley Smith, before James Plaskitt held it for Labour during the Tony Blair years.
Plaskitt was unseated in 2010 by Chris White, who had pushed him close five years earlier.
Proposals remain on the table to redraw parliamentary boundaries, creating a Stratford-onAvon and Warwick constituency.
Jeff Kenner, the Labour candidate in neighbouring Stratford-on-Avon, said: “I’m delighted that Warwick and Leamington is Labour once again and I congratulate Matt Western.
“Matt was a brilliant local candidate who fought an exceptional campaign. He will make a first-rate MP”.
For more from Matt Western see next Thursday’s Herald.
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