meet the indy candidate standing against Lisa Nandy

  • Post last modified:June 11, 2024
  • Reading time:6 mins read

In the second of our video interview series #CanaryCandidates we meet independent candidate Jan Cunliffe – standing against Labour’s Lisa Nandy

Jan Cunliffe has long been a campaigner for prison reform with JENGbA. But like many other people in traditionally working-class areas, she’s angry about Labour’s sharp shift to the right under Keir Starmer. And she’s trying to do something about it in her hometown of Wigan. Speaking to the Canary, she said that she’s running against Labour’s Lisa Nandy in the general election because she’s sick and tired of the Labour Party taking her community’s support for granted.

Her friends, she told us, all feel the same, regardless of their age:

We’re all fed up. Fed up of the Labour Party that doesn’t represent us anymore. And Wigan’s never been a Conservative-voting town. So what’s our options right now?

Jan Cunliffe: the ‘best candidate’ for people who are struggling

Jan Cunliffe’s campaign work with JENGba has also taught her a lot about Britain’s political system. She explained how she’s been to parliament and has seen “how difficult it is” to change things and “how lazy some MPs are”. And she thought “if I had the opportunity, I wouldn’t be half as lazy”. She continued by describing how “the majority of them try to… ignore any major issue that doesn’t sound politically fancy or sexy”.

Unlike most MPs, she insisted:

I’m more interested in the difficult choices, the ones that affect people in a more difficult way… And the people who struggle the most are the ones whose voices need to be heard the most… I’ve cut my teeth in fighting… and campaigning and struggles. So I just think if there’s anyone in Wigan who’s got a real struggle and they want a real fight, then I’m probably the best candidate for them.

Nandy, Gaza, and Labour going against people’s wishes

Jan Cunliffe explained that “Wigan’s a very safe Labour seat, and it always has been”, but that many people are upset about how the party has treated them. The positions of Lisa Nandy in particular, she said, seem to have changed over time.

Nandy is one member of Starmer’s team who has reportedly received money from pro-Israel lobbyist Trevor Chinn. And she has behaved accordingly, criticising Labour MPs who broke ranks in 2023 to vote for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Speaking about Nandy’s recent positions, Cunliffe said:

It’s become more of the Labour Party line as opposed to what the people of Wigan want her to do. And that’s really sad. Because as a Labour town with lots of working-class people, who are very proud of their working-class heritage and very proud of being members of the Labour Party, [people] feel that they’ve been taken for granted and let down massively over the last two/three decades.

Cunliffe also shared her position on Gaza was, insisting:

I think we need to stop selling bombs and guns and arms to other countries… Is the only industry we have right now… making bombs and arms to sell to other countries so that they can kill other people in other countries?

People have got skills. We don’t have to use those skills to create weapons that kill people in other countries. Let’s use those skills and transfer them into another industry – one that means that we’re a country of peace rather than a country that supports war and, at the moment, a country that supports genocide.

Opposing a “political machine that doesn’t listen to anyone”

Jan Cunliffe lamented that:

Both parties continually make promises before an election, and then as soon as the election chooses whoever is to be the next government, all of those promises disappear. And we need independents like me to go in there and to make sure that those promises are kept.

I can be making all of the arguments on behalf of people. I can be demanding that people in Wigan get a fair chance, and they get the opportunity to have a voice and not just be caught up in that… political machine that doesn’t listen to anyone.

One important issue that she feels politicians have long neglected is social housing. Speaking about Wigan in particular, she said:

People need to have somewhere to live – affordable homes. We need some council houses… because there haven’t been any built for a very long time… There’s a sort of demographic of people in Wigan right now of… 30-to-45-year-olds living in private rental, rented accommodation that is incredibly expensive.

They can’t get a mortgage, but yet their rent is more expensive than if they had a mortgage. And they’re living precariously, and many of them have got children and they want that stability. And the only way that they could get an affordable home and get that stability of a family life would be if they had a council house.

In a call of resistance against the Labour-Tory ruling class, she insisted:

Right now, we don’t feel like we live in a democracy… We don’t want two sides of the same coin.

For more of Cunliffe’s comments on the election and other issues, see the full interview on our YouTube channel:

Featured image via the Canary

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