IN the latest of political reporter BILL JACOBS’ constituency profiles ahead of the December 12 General Election, we look at Hyndburn – a Labour seat since 1992 but one which strongly voted for Brexit in the 2016 referendum

AN old rivalry is spicing up the General Election campaign in Hyndburn.

Labour candidate Graham Jones held the constituency of distinctive small towns with a majority of 5,815 in 2017.

That should be a comfortable cushion but in the current unpredictable political climate with Brexit looming over the December 12 poll it is far from safe.

Conservative candidate Sara Britcliffe is the daughter of Mr Jones old Hyndburn council rival Peter, the borough’s political ‘Master of Mischief’.

His presence on her team will ensure it is clever and flexible, exploiting Mr Jones’ well-known dislike of his leader Jeremy Corbyn.

It will seek to home in on Brexit where the Labour candidate seeks to reconcile his position, Euro-sceptical Remainer, with his party’s policy of putting a new withdrawal deal to a second referendum.

With Hyndburn’s voting 66.2 per cent to Leave in 2016 this could prove fertile ground.

The fact there is no love lost between Mr Jones and Britcliffe senior – who will hope he and Sara can deliver their native Oswaldtwistle solidly for the Conservatives – ensures a hotly-contested election.

Mr Jones must be delighted to see Brexit candidate and ex-soldier Greg Butt in the field.

The presence of both Liberal Democrat hospital consultant Adam Waller-Slack and Green Katrina Brockbank on the Remain side of the fence may spread enough confusion to bring voters worried about a ‘No Deal’ Brexit into his camp.

Mr Jones said: “I have said some harsh words about Jeremy Corbyn in the past, but in many respects he will make a strong Prime Minister with a radical agenda that the North has been crying out for for decades.

“The big issues are saving out public services from years of cuts and investing in transport.

“That means reinstating the Colne to Skipton rail link, electrifying the East Lancashire line, extending the M65 across the Pennines, and improving the M66 and A56.”

Cllr Britcliffe, 24, said: “Mr Jones has consistently voted against Brexit. The only way to get it done and move on to other issues like health and education and policing is to vote Conservative.

“This constituency is on a knife-edge and a vote for the Brexit Party could let in Mr Jones, who clearly has little regard for his leader.

“The Conservatives will invest in town centres and in the local businesses which are our lifeblood.”

School business manager, Miss Brockbank said: “I want to put the climate emergency at the heart of our community. Our ‘Green New Deal’ would create new local jobs, sustainable housing and improved rail and bus transport to enable us to be carbon-free by 2030.”

Dr Waller-Slack said: “People in Hyndburn are disaffected with Labour. They don’t trust the party on Brexit and they don’t trust Jeremy Corbyn.

“People don’t trust the Conservatives either with increasing inequality and poor housing in the constituency. We are the party to stop Brexit.”

Falklands War veteran Mr Butt said: “We need to take back full control and decide our own path as a fully-sovereign nation. This is what the Brexit Party will deliver. To distract from that is missing the point.

“Hyndburn is suffering from a chronic lack of investment and no joined-up commercial strategy to create opportunities that hard-working people deserve.

“If you vote Labour you get Corbyn.”

If the Conservatives pull off an unlikely but possible victory, it will be heart-warming for Cllr Britcliffe senior who failed to oust Labour twice in the Tony Blair years. If Mr Jones wins it will be a relief and welcome victory over the Britcliffe clan with whom he tangled so long as opposition leader on the council.