The race to become MP in the Red Wall seat of Bury South

The campaign to become MP for Bury South is almost over, and with the 2024 general election looming this week Mancunian Matters spoke to candidates on their vision for the area.

Bury South, traditionally a “Red Wall” seat, was won by Conservative Christian Wakeford in 2019 – who then defected to Labour in 2022.

Electoral Calculus currently predicts Labour has a 98% chance of winning Bury South, and Reform UK a 2% chance.

Wakeford’s defection

In September 2020 Wakeford – who was approached for interview – voted for a private members’ bill proposing that if an MP changed their political party they would be recalled and it would trigger a by-election in their constituencies.

But when Wakeford defected in 2022, no by-election was held in Bury South.

Michael Elston, an independent candidate, felt a by-election should probably have been held.

The Conservative candidate Arnie Saunders was disappointed by Wakeford’s actions, but still considered him a friend.

Jeff Armstrong, Bury South Reform UK candidate, said: “With Christian Wakeford you never know what you’re going to get.

“If he wins the election what happens in 12 months’ time if he decides to go as independent, what happens if he decides to go back to the Conservatives, what happens if he even decides to come to Reform?”

Wakeford has not made any indication he will change allegiance again.

Vision for Bury South

Sameera Ashraf, Workers Party of Britain candidate, said she wants to improve the schools in Bury South and supports establishing a mosque that is better suited for Radcliffe residents.

The current mosque is in a donated house, Ashraf said: “They have tried so hard with their MPs, councillors and everybody to get a proper mosque.

“It is a dire situation.”

Saunders said his vision for Bury South was in line with the Conservative vision for the country and he would like to see residents benefitting from lower taxes and increasing the number of medical appointments available in the area.

Elston said redevelopment is important for Bury South, especially for Radcliffe, but that current plans needed improving.

Armstrong’s vision is to reduce knife crime in the area and increase the amount of activities for young people as currently this is something the area is lacking.


Ashraf stated she believed that the major parties were ignoring the war in Gaza.

Armstrong said there has been an increase in hate crime towards the Jewish community in Bury South, and Saunders agreed – but also mentioned that Islamophobia has increased and called for calm in the area.

Saunders in fact made the news yesterday after allegedly being intimidated at a local mosque. Wakeford has been among those to condemn this.

Betting scandal

Multiple members of the Conservative Party are being investigated for attempting to place bets on the election date.

Saunders said: “I do think what we know so far has been put to bed.

“Unless anything more emerges, I think the last few days we are going to be able to concentrate on our core message.

Armstrong said that anyone placing a bet with insider information in any area was in the wrong.


While Wakeford remains the strong favourite, Ashraf said she has had positive feedback on the Workers Party from Bury South residents and thinks leader George Galloway is in a strong position for Rochdale.

Saunders believes a vote for Reform UK is a vote for Labour and that the race will be much closer than current predictions.

Armstrong on the other hand said the Workers Party will take votes from Labour and that Reform UK is in with a chance.

Elston stated that the independents are a growing movement, and said: “When I said I was an independent, people said there’s no recourse for the public if the independent doesn‘t do a good job.

“Which is a bit of an odd thing to say because I‘m not sure our current crop of party leaders would be the people to go to if you had a problem with a Labour or a Conservative MP.”

Election information

The full list of candidates for Bury South can be found here. Alongside Armstrong, Ashraf, Elston and Saunders, Stephen Morris is standing for the English Democrats; Andrew Page for the Liberal Democrats; Dan Ross for the Communist Party of Britain; Christian Wakeford for Labour; and Michael Welton for the Green Party.

The general election will take place on 4 July 2024 and polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm.

You must be registered to vote and show valid photo ID at the polling station.

Results will be announced on 5 July.

Featured image: © Copyright David Dixon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

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