SIR Keir Starmer praised the ‘community energy’ in Oldham as he visited the town ahead of launching his Labour Party leadership campaign in Manchester.
It was the fifth visit in as many years to the area for the shadow Brexit secretary, who is favourite to replace Jeremy Corbyn.
He was joined by the borough’s MPs Jim McMahon and Debbie Abrahams as well as Oldham Council leader Sean Fielding for a walk through the town centre.
Sitting in the renovated Old Town Hall, Sir Keir commented: “Every time I’ve come to Oldham I’ve been fascinated by the community energy and the innovation that is going on in the businesses here, which in my view, needs some nurturing and a general sense of where this community is.
“I come and I keep coming back, and I will come again. Every time I’ve had conversations with communities and representatives about what is happening in Oldham.
“We want to hear from local people what will make a difference for them.
“Over the last three or four years I have visited lots of towns and communities in the whole of the UK, meeting community groups and representatives. In all that time, no-one has ever said to me ‘you’re from London’.”
Sir Keir, MP for Holborn and St Pancras since 2015, added: “Debbie and Jim are fantastic advocates of Oldham, not only here but in parliament too.
“They’re doing what good constituency MPs do, which is standing up for their communities and their constituencies, and I’m sure that played a huge part in them getting re-elected.
“I’m here to listen to them and support them and if I’m elected leader of the Labour Party, that is what I’ll be doing from day one.
“There won’t be a 12-week election strategy, it will be from the very first day, very first hour that I’m in post as leader of the opposition and I will be doing that kind of work.”
Sir Keir, who received his title for services to law and criminal justice, is one of six contenders to be the next Labour Party leader, with the result to be announced in April.
He said: “We have lost four elections in a row, so there is a desire to make sure we put in place a leader and a team that can win the next election.
“The Labour Party is a force for good and a force for change and when we’re in power we can effect great change. But we can’t do that if we’re not in power.
“We need to win back our heartland seats across the country and be a party for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
“My experience of Labour Party members is that the vast majority of them are driven by their ideals, their passions and principles and that is what will be uppermost in their minds when they elect their next leader.”