MARIE Rimmer’s desire to become St Helens’ first woman MP has secured backing from Labour politicians locally and nationally.
The veteran councillor, 66, last week confirmed her desire to run as Labour’s candidate for the St Helens South and Whiston seat that will be vacated by Shaun Woodward next year.
Labour has declared there will be an all woman shortlist as part of a strategy to increase diversity in Parliament.
With the ex-council leader believed to have significant support among the grassroots it has raised the prospect of a remarkable political resurgence for one of the town’s dominant figures of the past three decades.
After she was ousted from the seat of power in the town hall last spring following a leadership challenge by Barrie Grunewald, some Labour insiders had tipped Rimmer to step down from politics.
But she is said to have been energised by the thought of becoming an MP and believes she would have the drive and energy even though a first potential term in office would see her pass her 70th birthday.
Rimmer’s place on the political map for the past 30 years means she bears plenty of scars, has a few enemies and – judging by some of the letters sent to the Star this week – is not everyone’s choice for the job.
However, she has solid support from political colleagues, including Woodward, who many felt denied her the chance to run for office when he was parachuted into the constituency ahead of the 2001 general election.
Rimmer's team released a number of statements from high profile figures offering their support.
Shadow cabinet member Maria Eagle said: "Marie Rimmer has long been a doughty fighter for Merseyside, who alongside colleagues fought to bring European monies into our Region. Marie is a great campaigner."
Current MP and former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, speaking of his support said Rt. Hon. Shaun Woodward added: “Marie Rimmer is the great champion for St Helens. No-one knows the town better. Marie's experience of St Helens is without rival. No-one knows the town better. No-one will work and fight harder for everyone who lives and works in St Helens. I've seen that dedication relentlessly in her time as Council Leader - and as a highly distinguished councillor for the borough.
"Working with Marie has been a privilege and I believe no one is better qualified. Marie's experience means that from day one, she is ready to serve the town as best as the town could hope for. With Marie's commitment, dedication and experience, I know Marie will serve St Helens with distinction and achieve what is now needed. I urge all Labour Members to support Marie's candidacy. Marie is truly ready to serve. "
Former Minister of State and current Chair of the powerful Public Accounts Committee Rt. Hon. Margaret Hodge MP said: “Marie is just the sort of woman we need in Parliament and just the sort of person you need to represent you. She's a natural fighter, full of integrity offering great experience and completely rooted in St Helens.
Merseyside’s Police Commissioner and former Member of Parliament for Liverpool Wavertree Jane Kennedy said: “Marie Rimmer is one of the most important & influential women on Merseyside & a source of inspiration to me. I cannot think of a more excellent choice to be Labour's candidate for Parliament in St Helens South."
Former Whiston MP Eddie O’Hara said: "Marie Rimmer has strong powers of clear and strategic vision and leadership combined with energy and stamina in implementing her policies. She leads from the front and is motivated by a strong commitment to the service of her local community.
"Her personal qualities include honesty, integrity, generosity, responsibility and compassion for those in need. She has well demonstrated her high qualities of leadership at council level. She is more than well equipped to exercise these qualities at a parliamentary level, she is quite simply the best person for the job.”