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“Suffolk lad” Labour MP Gareth Snell starts his Westminster career

PUBLISHED: 11:00 27 February 2017 | UPDATED: 15:53 27 February 2017

Labour candidate Gareth Snell celebrates with his wife Sophia (right) after winning the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election. Picture Joe Giddens/PA

Labour candidate Gareth Snell celebrates with his wife Sophia (right) after winning the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election. Picture Joe Giddens/PA

Former Stowmarket High School student Gareth Snell was being introduced as an MP in the House of Commons on Monday after winning the Stoke on Trent Central by-election.

Gareth Snell won an award while at Stowmarket High School.Gareth Snell won an award while at Stowmarket High School.

Mr Snell held off a challenge from UKIP to hold the solid Labour seat in last Thursday’s by-election. He has lived in the Stoke area after becoming a student at Keele University in nearby Newcastle Under Lyme when he left school.

But as he travelled to Westminster as an MP for the first time, he told us how he became interested in politics while a boy in Suffolk.

His grandfather Ron Snell was Labour mayor of Stowmarket in the 1990s.

He said: “I became involved in the party during Chris Mole’s by-election campaign in 2001. I was 16 and while I was working there Bryony Rudkin (who became Labour leader of the county council) signed me up as a party member.”

While he was a sixth-form student Mr Snell did some voluntary work for the Labour group at the county council – and his interest in politics continued when he went to university.

He said: “When I got to Keele there was no Labour club there so I set one up with a couple of other students. I joined the local Labour Party as well and stood for election to the council a few times before I got on in 2010.”

He became leader of Newcastle Under Lyme Council in 2012.

Mr Snell has lived in the Stoke on Trent area since arriving at university – although he told the world on his Twitter site in 2011 that he “remains a Suffolk lad at heart.”

He said he still returns to Suffolk four or five times a year to see his family – and he’s already been invited to meet local Labour Party members during his next visit.

He said: “John Cook (Ipswich Labour agent) has already invited me to meet the members when I’m next down in Suffolk.

“If you look back at where we were when I started Labour only lost Bury St Edmunds by a few hundred votes in 1997 and a couple of thousand in 2001. We were winning votes in rural areas as well as strong urban areas like London and Stoke.

“We have to connect with people in those kind of areas again, through trades unions and by talking to people about issues that really do affect them. There is no reason why we should not win back that support.”

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