New MP seeks to serve city’s ‘radical spirit’

Catherine Jane Smith gains the Lancaster and Fleetwood constituency for Labour
Catherine Jane Smith gains the Lancaster and Fleetwood constituency for Labour
  • Cat Smith seeks to serve city’s ‘radical spirit’
  • MP won the Lancaster and Fleetwood seat from Conservative Eric Ollerenshaw in the general election on May 8

Lancaster’s new MP spoke of world poverty, Lancaster’s “radical residents”, and her visits to Glastonbury music festival as she made her maiden speech in parliament.

Cat Smith, Labour MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, also paid tribute to her predecessor Eric Ollerenshaw, who she said was well respected in parliament and was prepared to put his constituents first, “shown by his opposition to the coalition Government’s plans to ease the regulation of fracking.”

Ms Smith said it was something she hoped to continue with.

Her speech, on Monday June 1, followed that of James Heappey, MP for Wells, to whom she said: “I have enjoyed the Glastonbury music festival in his constituency on many occasions.”

She said in her speech: “Lancaster is famous for its nonconformist residents, so as a Methodist I feel I am in good company. I am pleased to be making my maiden speech in the debate on Britain in the world, because it was my faith that led me into politics, through the campaigns to drop third world debt and the campaign for fair trade.

Lancaster has also been graced with radical residents such as Selina Martin, who was a leading suffragette, and Lancaster University, of which our city is very proud and of which I am a graduate, chose Charles Carter to be its first vice-chancellor. Carter, who was a Quaker and a pacifist, served time in prison for refusing to be conscripted into the Army. I am proud of my constituency’s radical traditions and of the many famous names who have led pioneering political campaigns while being unafraid to speak out.

“I seek to serve in that spirit.”

Ms Smith also said: “Given that we are debating Britain in the world, I want to highlight the need for a consistent and ethically driven foreign policy.

“All too often, the UK has turned a blind eye to repression by regimes it considers its allies, but has all too quickly rushed to military action against those it opposes, resulting in catastrophic consequences.”

She also called for ministers to recognise Palestinian statehood and reconsinder its policy on Syrian refugees.

She added: “I look forward to campaigning alongside my constituents to ensure that the UK plays a positive role in the world, acting as a leading advocate for peace, human rights and poverty eradication across the world.

She also thanked the people of Lancaster and Fleetwood for electing her.