‘Times are altering – Yorkshire Dales could lastly get a Labour MP’

The unthinkable may actually be about to happen: a Labour MP in the Yorkshire Dales.

Opinion polls suggest that local man Malcolm Birks could win rural Skipton and Ripon, a Tory bastion from time immemorial. This would be the biggest upset since, well, the last biggest one when Labour won the North Yorkshire mayoralty contest last month.

Architect Malcolm, 48, is fighting Scots-born Julian Smith, who moved ’ere 15years ago for a safe seat, like his boss Rishi Sunak in ­next-door Richmond. Times they are a changin’, and this could well prove second time lucky for Malcolm, a Glusburn lad. He was runner-up nine years ago, in Labour’s best ever performance.

I wrote recently that he had a mountain to climb in this election. Well, he’s left base camp and he’s attacking the summit. The polls have him neck and neck with the Tory, and one even put him ahead. “I think it’s on,” he told me over a pint of BYB in a Skipton bistro (yes, they have ’em up ’ere). “I’m in with a chance.”

That’s what I said about the metro-mayor election when Labour pulled off a sensational victory, as they did in the Selby by-election previously. It’s not just wishful drinking.

Family man Malcolm has some bright ideas to take to Westminster, like GB Housing, a government body to tackle the homes crisis alongside state-owned GB Energy. He’d be a breath of fresh air in the home of democracy.

The result is likely to be decided by tactical voting. If enough Lib Dems and Greens sink their differences and join Labour to create an anti-Sunak united front, Malcolm is home and dry. Now that’s where common sense lies.