THE defence secretary spent an afternoon with veterans in Runcorn to launch Weaver Vale Labour hopeful John Stockton’s election campaign.
Bob Ainsworth was invited by Halton Brook councillor John Stockton, who is standing for the Weaver Vale seat in the General Election on May 6.
Mr Ainsworth and Mr Stockton, along with campaign organisers, Special Branch officers and armed forces veterans, converged on the Buttermere Grove home of David Evans, 72, for the informal gathering last Wednesday.
The politicians listened to the pensioners’ military experiences including taking on the Nazis in the Second World War, fighting in Korea and peacetime administration.
When several veterans said they were concerned about the British military’s equipment provision, the minister responded that ‘a lot of investment’ had brought a ‘massive improvement’ for troops’ equipment.
Mr Evans, who served in the RAF and the Navy before working as an ambulance driver and finally settling as a policeman for 22 years in Weston Point and Weston, said he was very pleased that the defence minister had visited. He added that he believes Mr Stockton will be just as good as retiring MP Mike Hall.
Mr Stockton, of Norton, Runcorn, revealed that a constituency boundary change means that Labour is facing a tougher challenge to take Weaver Vale in this year’s General Election, and that the seat is a key battleground where the General Election could be ultimately decided.
The party took 47.6% of the vote in the 2005 General Election – but boundary changes in 2007 saw the Castlefields estate become part of Halton, while Conservative-dominated areas including Helsby, Frodsham and Kingsley joined Weaver Vale.
Mr Ainsworth urged Runcorn voters to pick Labour.
“The Labour Party has dealt with the recession without creating unnecessary unemployment or destroying businesses at the rate seen in the 1990s.”
Len Rugen, 69, of Frodsham, added: “Bob was very easy to talk to and interested in what we had to say.”