Leyton Leytonstone News

Warm wishes pour in for departing Labour MP as Greens and Lib Dems mount bids to voters

As John Cryer prepares to vacate his seat in the House of Commons, opposition candidates have launched their appeals to voters, reports Marco Marcelline

Inset image: John Cryer, Credit: UK Parliament, Man image credit: Chris Hepburn via Canva

Warm wishes from Labour colleagues and beyond have poured in for departing Leyton and Wanstead MP John Cryer who announced yesterday that he is set to stand down at the general election on 4th July.

Cryer had represented the safe Labour seat since 2010 but yesterday (27th May) he said he had taken the “extremely difficult decision” to step down in order to spend more time with his two young children.

In a statement, he said: “It has been an immense privilege to have served as your MP for the past 14 years. As you may know, I have two young children and I feel I should try to spend more time with them.”

He described the constituency’s caseload as being “perhaps one of the heaviest” in the country with “very large numbers of cases in categories such as immigration, housing and benefits.”

Cryer continued: “In the past 14 years some of the most vulnerable people have paid a heavy price for Tory and coalition experiments with austerity and I have seen public services attacked repeatedly while the ability of elected representatives to make a difference has been consistently curtailed, in my view deliberately.”

The MP faced mounting calls to back an Israel-Hamas ceasefire after voting against one in Parliament in November last year. In December, following protests outside his constituency office, he voiced his support for a ceasefire, stating it was “difficult to see what the continued military offensive in southern Gaza is achieving”.

Fellow Labour MPs sent their well wishes on Twitter/X, with Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy tweeting: “Sorry to see John Cryer stand down at the election – his experience and calm head will be much missed in Waltham Forest and also in the Commons!”

Meanwhile, Brent MP Dawn Butler, who grew up in Leytonstone, tweeted: “Oh no, my Mums going to be well upset! Take care John, I’m sure we’ll catch up soon.”

In a statement to the Echo, Chingford and Woodford Green MP Iain Duncan Smith said he was “personally sorry” to hear the news but “fully understood” Cryer’s decision.

He said: “John and I have known each other for a number of years. I knew his father, Bob, briefly when we were both opposed to signing the Maastricht Treaty. When it came to constituency, borough or hospital issues, John and I, as borough MP’s along with Stella Creasy, often did our level best to cooperate to achieve the best outcomes for those living in the area. Strange as it may seem, for those who think that Party politics is all rancorous all the time, it’s not.”

Councillor Emma Best, speaking on behalf of the Waltham Forest Conservatives, said: “We want to express thanks to John for the service that he has given to the people of Leyton and Wanstead over the past 14 years. We wish him a happy retirement from the House of Commons and send him and his family our very best wishes for the future.”

Stella Creasy and Duncan Smith have both said they will re-stand for election.

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Duncan Smith faces a strong challenge from Faiza Shaheen, who came just 1,262 votes short of taking the seat in 2019.

Meanwhile, the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats have announced their candidates in Leyton and Wanstead.

Tara Copeland, a 30-year-old Canadian who has played for the Leyton Orient Women’s Team, and who works as a freelance photographer, is standing for the Liberal Democrats.

Liberal Democrat candidate for Leyton & Wanstead Tara Copeland, Credit: Waltham Forest Liberal Democrats

She describes herself as a passionate environmentalist and has declared herself against the expansion of the Edmonton incinerator and extending the operating hours of London City Airport. Tara has also said she would address homelessness by campaigning to bring more of Waltham Forest’s 1,500 empty homes back into use.

“Local health services have been brought to their knees, people’s mortgages and rent have skyrocketed and water companies have been allowed to pump their filthy sewage into our rivers and beaches. All this by a Conservative government more interested in fighting between themselves than standing up for the country,” she said.

Green Party candidate Charlotte Laffety, Credit: Laffety

Green Party candidate Charlotte Laffety has made “strong action on climate, social and economic justice” a key part of her campaign for election.

In 2022, Lafferty stood for election as a Leytonstone ward councillor, and voiced her support for grassroots projects like Save Lea Marshes. She also said she would put pressure on the council to stop its support for the Edmonton Incinerator, a project she described as the “last thing” to back during a climate emergency.

Speaking to the Echo following Cryer’s surprise announcement, the Green parliamentary candidate said: “I’d like to give thanks to John Cryer for the service he’s given over the last 14 years, particularly his opposition to austerity in 2015 and support for public ownership. But, it’s clear that we desperately need change here in Leyton and Wanstead and my worry now is that the Labour party are offering the same as the Conservatives, and will impose a candidate on us that will toe the line and not stand up for the residents here or their best interests.”

She continued: “I’m a long time resident of Leyton, I know we need strong action on climate, social and economic justice here. That’s strong action on the cost of living crisis, housing, protecting the NHS, keeping our water and green spaces safe to use. And I know how much communities here are affected by the situation in Gaza, and I will continue to be calling for a ceasefire, ending arm sales and calling for all hostages to be free.”

The Conservatives and Labour are yet to announce their candidates for Leyton and Wanstead.

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