Labour ‘fighting for every vote’ as Yorkshire prepared to head to the polls

Labour candidates Yvette Cooper and Mary Creagh campaigning in Wakefield
Labour candidates Yvette Cooper and Mary Creagh campaigning in Wakefield
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Senior Labour figures say the party is “fighting for every last vote” in Yorkshire to ensure the region has a strong voice in Westminster whatever the national result.

Speaking in the West Yorkshire marginal of Wakefield, the former Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper made a final appeal to voters as she warned a Tory landslide on Friday would be “incredibly damaging” for the region.

Her visit came as the party continued to focus their message on cuts to police funding amid intense scrutiny of the government’s record on security and counter-terrorism.

But there are doubts as to whether this will be enough to shore-up Labour support ahead of today’s poll, with senior Conservatives still “optimistic” of making gains despite an error-strewn campaign.

Wakefield has been one of the key battlegrounds in this election as the Tories set their sites on overturning Mary Creagh’s 2,613 vote lead. It is one of a number of previously safe Labour seats that are expected to change hands on June 9 following the collapse of the Ukip vote and a surge in support for the Conservatives.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Post from the campaign trail, Ms Cooper acknowledged that Theresa May called an election in full confidence of securing a landslide. But she claimed this was beginning to “unravel”, particularly as voters wake up to the impact of Tory spending cuts on local and national security.

“The damage that the Tories have done to our policing is very serious; we have lost over 2,000 police officers from Yorkshire and could see hundreds more police officers go,” she said.

“The Tories never stand up for Yorkshire, they never give Yorkshire a fair deal and that’s what we’ve been campaigning to stop.

“When Theresa May called the election she wanted to get the kind of landslide that Margaret Thatcher wanted.

“We’re also fighting for every vote because we need to make sure that, whatever happens in terms of the national result, we have got Yorkshire Labour voices and strong MPs speaking up for this area.”

The latest polls indicate Labour is still narrowing the Conservative lead, despite repeated attacks on Jeremy Corbyn’s opposition to counter-terror legislation and past dealings with the IRA.

Theresa May’s U-turn on social care caps has been cited as a big factor in this change, but critics have also pointed to her previous role as Home Secretary where she oversaw millions of pounds worth of cuts to the policing budget.

However, both Tory and Labour supporters have expressed scepticism at the polling data, claiming that it does not represent the reaction they are getting on the doorsteps.

Conservative party vice chairman and incumbent candidate for Pudsey, Stuart Andrew, told this paper there was a feeling of “cautious optimism” about the party’s chances in the region, adding that there is “everything to play for”.