An Alsager man who wants to be Congleton’s next MP has said it would be a “massive honour” to represent the constituency.
Currently a member of Alsager Town Council, Coun Michael Unett, (26), has announced that he has applied to be the Labour Party candidate at the next general election.
Explaining his decision to put his name forward as a possible candidate, he posted online: “Congleton has been let down by 13 years of Conservative chaos. The borough deserves a local MP who will be dedicated to representing all of its communities and delivering the fresh start they need.”
Coun Unett was the first in Labour’s constituency party to declare his candidacy ahead of the deadline, which was on Sunday.
He told the “Chronicle”: “I predict we may have one or two others applying before the cut off. Party members will then make their choice as to who they would like to be the next candidate early in the new year.
“Any local member is entitled to apply. Personally, I think we need a candidate who lives in the constituency, but I look forward to members making their choice.”
Coun Unett explained that he had lived in the constituency all his life, having attended Daven Primary and Congleton High School, before settling in Alsager, where he became a town councillor in 2019.
A life-long Labour supporter, Coun Unett said he was interested in politics from an early age, and benefited as a child from policies introduced under Tony Blair.
He said: “I was one of the children who was lifted out of poverty by the last Labour government, and I will always remember that. I was born in 1997, when Tony Blair became prime minister, into a working class, single-parent household.
“Those first years, we were pretty much on the breadline, but there was a revitalisation of schools, the introduction of the national minimum wage, working tax credits; all of those things that benefited poor families and we really felt the effects of that.
“My mum made some personal sacrifices to get through those early years, and she was heavily supported by my grandparents. I’ve always wanted to try and give back to the next generation, if I am ever in a position to do so.”
Coun Unett said his family weren’t interested in politics as he was growing up, but that he was inspired by a few “fantastic individuals” both locally and nationally, including former prime minister Gordon Brown.
He said: “I think while many people probably didn’t like him at the time, looking back, history will treat him a lot more kindly than people did while he was in office.”
Coun Unett was inspired to join the Labour Party after the 2015 general election, when a coalition government was formed between the-then Conservative leader David Cameron and Nick Clegg, who was the Lib Dem leader.
He said: “I threw myself in, and became more actively involved. I began to see the difference that you can make to local issues, which impact people a lot.
“When I heard there hadn’t been a by-election in Alsager’s East ward, where I currently live, for about 20 years, I decided to trigger one and stand for it; that was late 2016, and the vote ended up happening on 12th January 2017, in a lot of snow!”
After struggling to drum up support between Christmas and new year 2017, the aspiring councillor lost his first election, but later won a seat on Alsager Town Council in 2019.
When asked what he would say to someone concerned about his lack of experience, Coun Unett said: “Parliament is supposed to represent the country as a whole and young people are not very well represented there.
“I know my constituency and its communities, I’ve had plenty of life experiences and I’ve been a serving councillor, including chair of the council, for the last four years.
“There would be a learning curve, as there would be for anybody entering Parliament for the first time, but I do think we need some more youthful representation for our community.”
Speaking about national politics, Coun Unett said he felt “massively inspired” by Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner, and looked forward to her becoming deputy prime minister at the next general election.
He said: “I support Kier Starmer as well. I think what he’s done to bring the Labour Party back from its worst defeat, to one where it looks like we might see a landslide, is a massive achievement. Of course, we still have to go out and work for it. We can’t be complacent.”
As secretary of Alsager Pride, Coun Unett said he was “unequivocal” about supporting LGBTQ+ rights. He said: “I think it’s something that sets us apart from Fiona Bruce and her voting record. It’s a small section of our society, but everyone deserves to be treated equally before the law.”
But Coun Unett said that the cost-of-living crisis, and public services, would be his biggest priority if he was successful at the ballot box.
He said: “It’s hitting everyone’s pockets at the moment. Rising bills, even mortgage payments for many families are increasing. This year we are going to see the biggest drop in living standards since records began.
“Currently the Government isn’t getting to grips with it, so going into the next election that is something I’m going to be keen to discuss with people; we can’t continue with the way things are.
“The last 13 years of cuts and stagnation has left our public services in a dire state, and everyone deserves better, especially when people are paying more tax now than ever before.”
When the “Chronicle” asked Coun Unett if he was aware that he would be Congleton’s first ever Labour MP, if he was selected and then elected at the general election, he was well versed in local politics.
He said: “First Labour MP for the constituency since its creation in 1983, for Congleton town itself.
“Not the first Labour MP for Sandbach and Alsager though, they used to be part of the Crewe constituency. It would be a proud moment and a massive honour if I were to be successful.”