Jim Knight launches Labour candidate Lloyd Hatton’s election bid

JIM Knight, former Labour MP for South Dorset, has launched Lloyd Hatton’s bid to reclaim his seat – at the chip shop where the candidate worked as a teenager.

Mr Hatton returned to his role at the Marlboro fish and chip shop, in Weymouth Harbour, as part of the launch event.

Born and raised in the town, he attended Holy Trinity and All Saints schools, and played rugby at Weymouth RFC.

Earlier this week, he said Richard Drax’s comments calling for young people who turn down work to be conscripted were “out of touch”.

Speaking to your Purbeck Gazette, Mr Hatton said he wants to combat the cost of living crisis by providing support for families, pensioners and small businesses.

READ MORE: Richard Drax conscription comments “out of touch” says Labour candidate

Part of Labour’s plan to deliver an extra 2 million NHS appointments in its first year is the Neighbourhood Health Service scheme, which increases treatment capacity at local health centres.

This is a key aspect of Mr Hatton’s campaign, specifically mentioning the waiting list in Swanage and the community hospital.

He has been an active campaigner to reduce sewage spills in Dorset rivers and beaches, and said the Bibby Stockholm was a “pointless gimmick” that needs to be shut down.

Lloyd Hatton is the Labour candidate for South Dorset.

Lloyd Hatton is the Labour candidate for South Dorset.

Mr Knight represented the constituency from 2001 to 2010, under the premiership of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, before he was made a life peer in the 2010 Dissolution Honours.

Labour only gained two seats in the 2001 election; one from Plaid Cymru and one from the Conservatives – South Dorset.

Despite the landslide in 1997, Mr Knight narrowly missed out on the seat by just 77 votes, but strengthened his majority in 2005 by a margin of 1,735.

Part of these tight results can be attributed to the constituency’s strong Liberal Democrat presence, often pulling in far more votes than any given majority, although this has decreased by some margin since 2015.

Labour have announced North Dorset is “non-battleground” seat, giving the Lib Dem candidate a stronger chance of ousting the incumbent Simon Hoare, but no such favour was returned in the south of the county.

Perhaps Labour can hope for a vote-splitting candidate of their own, with Matthew Etherington currently listed as the constituency’s prospective parliamentary candidate (PPC) for Reform UK.

For an electorate that put more than 30,000 votes behind the eurosceptic Richard Drax in 2019, this option could gain considerable traction.

In the past 100 years, the only instance of a non-Conservative MP in South Dorset other than Jim Knight came with Labour’s Guy Barnett in a 1962 by-election.

He defeated the Conservatives by just 704 votes, with eurosceptic independent Piers Debenham pulling 5,057 votes for himself.

UKIP earned more than 7,000 votes in 2015.

Although a win outside the main two parties looks almost impossible, their performance will have a big influence.

Mr Hatton will be hoping for a weak Lib Dem campaign and a divisive Reform candidate, with Mr Drax naturally praying for the opposite.

Either way, it is going to be a tight race.

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