‘This by-election, let’s show Galloway and Sunak Rochdale rejects chaos or division’

Azhar Ali
Angela Rayner, centre, with Azhar Ali, right. Photo: Labour Party

Last Saturday, I was chosen by local Labour party members to be the candidate for the Rochdale by-election on February 29th.

For me, it’s an incredible honour, after serving as a Labour councillor for 22 years.  But it is tinged with sadness, too.

Sir Tony Lloyd was a dear friend and his death three weeks ago shocked and moved people across politics, the Labour family and here in Rochdale.

Here’s a mark of the man. Even though he was seriously ill, Tony was working for the people of Rochdale until three days before his death. Its there on his website and social media for all to see.

A true servant of his constituency and our party. A humble, genuine and diligent man who touched the lives of thousands as a Member of Parliament for more than three decades. The best of Labour.

Hardly surprising, then, there was an outpouring of love and respect for him.

My responsibility is to finish Tony’s legacy

My responsibility is to continue Tony’s legacy. To finish the job and use this by-election to send an unmistakeable message to Rishi Sunak: Give us a general election and let us rebuild our country after 14 wasted Tory years.

So, this is what I now intend to do. Rochdale is suffering at the hands of this clapped-out government. We have 8,000 households in the town trapped in fuel poverty during a cold, wet winter.

The local council’s budget has been slashed by 28% – £180 million – frustrating its ability to make our town better. Our local NHS is suffering, too.

Recent figures show there are over 130,000 Rochdale people on a waiting list, while many more struggle to secure an appointment with their GP. Nearly half the adults in the town – and 40% of our children – haven’t seen a dentist in the past two years. Utterly scandalous.

I want to see an immediate ceasefire

Many local people are also desperately concerned about events in Gaza; as am I.

I want to see an immediate ceasefire. I also want to see humanitarian aid stepped up and all hostages immediately released. I also want to see a two-state solution and meaningful efforts to get us there.

There is so much to do but we have a plan – and we can offer hope to Rochdalians that a Labour government will make their lives better. So, we’re already out there fighting for every vote, but I need your help.

George Galloway intends to stand here and brings with him his usual circus. I will say this: He is in for a big surprise.

The people of Rochdale won’t fall for his controversial campaigning, extreme politics and crackpot theories.

Finally, then, a plea. It’s a cold, wet February. We have a lot of doors to knock on and mountains of leaflets to deliver. Please come and help! Let’s send a message to Rishi Sunak. End the chaos and drift and give us a general election.

Let’s also send a message to Galloway: Rochdale doesn’t want your division here. Instead, let’s celebrate a great champion of our party – and of Rochdale – and win this by-election for Tony.


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