General Election 2024: Labour’s Ed Miliband visits Thanet for Polly Billington’s campaign to become East Thanet MP

Ed Miliband, Polly Billington and supporters in Broadstairs

Labour’s parliamentary candidate Polly Billington was joined on the General Election campaign trail today (May 27) by the Shadow Secretary of State for Energy, Security and Net Zero, Ed Miliband.

The former Labour Party leader visited Broadstairs to support Ms Billington’s bid to become the new MP for East Thanet when the country goes to the polls on July 4.

Electoral Calculus predicts Labour’s chance of winning the East Thanet seat as 98%.

The Conservative chance of regaining the seat has been given just 2% with a candidate yet to be named after incumbent Craig Mackinlay announced he would not be running. Mr Mackinlay returned to Parliament on Wednesday (May 22) after eight months following a battle with sepsis that led to the amputation of his arms up to his elbows and legs to the knees.

However, the General Election date was announced the same day and Mr Mackinlay made the decision to not run for re-election but to concentrate on his recovery and campaign to raise awareness of sepsis.

Ms Billington, who previously worked for Ed Miliband as a special advisor, said it was “amazing” to think that after July 4 there could be a Labour government.

She added: “We are ready to do what we need to do to get rid of the Tories and make sure we have a Labour government.”

Among Polly Billington’s pledges for Thanet are free breakfast clubs for children to help with the cost of living; regulating short-term holiday lets; a commitment to the state pension triple lock; tackling sewage in the seas and its damaging impact on the environment and Thanet’s tourism industry and businesses; making sure infrastructure is in place for new home developments and reviving high streets.

Ed Miliband told the Labour gathering on the Western Esplanade at Broadstairs: “I am absolutely delighted to be here with the brilliant Polly Billington. I am going to be travelling around the country a lot in this campaign but this trip means so much.”

Mr Miliband said Ms Billington was “an incredible advocate” and would be an” incredible asset” to Thanet and Parliament.

He added: “She cares about people, she knows politics starts with people.”

Mr Miliband said after 14 years in government , the Conservatives had brought the country ‘backwards’ with struggling health services, rising energy bills and ‘crumbling schools.’

He added: “Thanet and Britain deserve better.”

He noted the Vattenfall wind farm visible from the Western Esplanade and said under a Labour government one of the first steps would be the creation of Great British Energy, a publicly-owned clean power company, to cut bills and boost energy security, paid for by a windfall tax on oil and gas giants.

The visit followed the launch of Ms Billington’s campaign last week where she spoke at an event outside Margate railway station.

Before becoming a Parliamentary candidate, she was a BBC journalist and a Head of Communications and Campaigns at Citizens Advice, coordinating campaigns on energy, welfare and payday loans.

Photo Amy Rutland

She said: “As somebody who has dedicated their life to fighting injustice, I can’t sit idly by: the people of Thanet have been let down and they deserve an MP who will fight for them.

“Thanet has so much going for it, but has suffered from Tory neglect for far too long. That’s why after 14 years of Conservative failure here, it is time for change with a Labour candidate will bring people together for a better future.

“I grew up in an ordinary suburb and my parents were teachers. I benefited from good state education and worked as a BBC reporter. But I couldn’t just tell people things were wrong: I wanted to do something about it. Ever since I have been campaigning for better jobs, better homes and for our environment.

“With my experience in campaigning, I will fight to get the better opportunities, industries and services here in Thanet, as well as protecting our natural resources, and combatting climate change.”

Labour’s pledges for its ‘first steps for change’ are to deliver economic stability, cut NHS waiting times, launch a new Border Security Command, set up Great British Energy, crack down on antisocial behaviour and recruit 6,500 new teachers in key subjects.

Parliamentary candidates for Thanet

The Green Party Parliamentary candidate announced for the East Thanet constituency is Steve Roberts.

Conservatives have not yet named their candidate following Mr Mackinlay’s decision not to stand for re-election. Reform UK is also yet to announce a candidate.

In the Herne Bay and Sandwich constituency, which includes Westbrook, Birchington, Garlinge, Thanet villages wards and Westgate, Sir Roger Gale aims to retain his seat for Conservatives, Helen Whitehead is running for Labour, Thea Barrett is standing for Greens and Amelia Randall for Reform UK. Electoral Calculus currently has Labour and Conservatives both with a 50% chance to take the seat.

Next steps


Following the General Election announcement, Parliament was prorogued on Friday 24 May and will be dissolved on Thursday 30 May. Neither House nor their committees will then meet until after the election.

The new Parliament will first meet on Tuesday 9 July, when members begin to take the oath and the House of Commons will elect a Speaker.

The State Opening of Parliament is expected to take place on 17 July.