SIR Keir Starmer, the frontrunning candidate for the leadership of the Labour Party, his visited Oldham to lay down his credentials.

Flanked by the town's MPs Jim McMahon and Debbie Abrahams as well as council leader Sean Fielding, current Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir went walkabout in the town centre today (Saturday, January 11).

When asked if he - as a London MP - could reverse the Conservative tide which swept across Labour heartland constituencies in the North he told The Oldham Times: "For the last three or four years I've been going to lots of constituencies across the whole of the the UK and every where I've gone we've had a very constructive discussion.

"Local people are very keen to tell me, what are the three or four things that would make a difference to your town. In all that time in three years and 150 visits, no-one has ever said to me 'well you're from London'."

Sir Keir said it was the four time he had visited Oldham in the last four or five years.

He went on: "I have had conversations with communities and representatives here and about what is happening in Oldham, because it's very important for the Labour Party to be having a conversation about our towns and areas around the North West.

"And every time I've come to Oldham I've been fascinated by the community energy that there is and the innovation that is going on in the businesses here, which in my view, need some nurturing and a general sense of where this community is. I come and I keep coming back, and I will come again."

Sir Keir stressed that although Labour needed to win back the heartland seats in the North, it also needed to win in Scotland, Wales and the 120-plus seats south of Bristol.

When asked by The Oldham Times if the mechanism by which the Labour Party elected its leader, with block union votes and heavily influenced by Momentum, the 57-year-old candidate replied: "My experience of Labour Party members is that the vast majority of them are driven by their ideals, their passions and that is what will be uppermost in their minds when they're electing leaders of their parties.

"Obviously, we've lost four elections in a row, so there is a desire to make sure we put in place a leader and a leadership team that can win us the next election, because 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."

He continued: "I will be working with Debbie and Jim in particular (to win back Tory votes) who are fantastic advocates of Oldham, not only here when I come to visit, but in parliament 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 the election.

"I'm here to listen to them, but also to support them and if I'm elected leader of the Labour Party, that is what I'll be doing from day one. In other words, there won't be a 12-week election strategy, whenever the next election is, 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."