Liberal Democrats leader's column: Gaza, the cost of living and being Lancastrian

Date published: 24 November 2023

Andy Kelly is the leader of the local Liberal Democrats party in Rochdale and a councillor for Milnrow & Newhey.

This month he dedicates his column to discussing the ongoing conflict in Gaza, the cost of living crisis, and being Lancastrian.

Anyone who says that they believe 100% with every policy their party stands for is not telling the whole truth in my opinion. But when it comes to the Lib Dem stance on the Israel/ Hamas war I can put my hand on my heart and say that I do.

The worsening crisis in Gaza is nothing short of a humanitarian disaster. Thousands of innocent civilians have already been killed, including thousands of children.

Daily news reels are heartbreaking and it just seems to get worse every day. It is six weeks since Hamas’ atrocities and it is increasingly clear that Israel's military solution to eliminate Hamas is not possible. Nor is it tenable for Israel to reoccupy Gaza.

The only answer is via an immediate bilateral ceasefire.

Only a sustained political and diplomatic solution will resolve this conflict and deliver a lasting peace.

It may seem worlds away from the wind and rain of a Rochdale winter, but politics is all relative, and hard-working people in this borough are still facing a cost of living crisis, high inflation, a straining NHS, high fuel costs and what seems to be eternal gridlock on the roads.

As councillors, we have seen a spike in casework where more and more people are reaching out for help for the basic things in life. We will continue to work hard for those we represent as the primary role of an elected member is to advocate for those in their ward.


Andy Kelly at conference
Andy Kelly


On a lighter note, Monday 27 November is Lancashire Day. I will be attending the Lancashire flag raising at 10.30am in Milnrow next Monday morning (opposite Milnrow Balti).

Why? Well, despite being part of Greater Manchester for almost fifty years, many people from Rochdale - me included - identify as Lancastrian.

Like thousands of others, I was born at Birch Hill Hospital and my birth certificate says Lancashire on it. We are the county of hard work, industry, tolerance and reform.

Let us not forget that Rochdale, Lancashire was the first town to come out and support Abraham Lincoln’s anti-slavery stance in 1862/63, despite being in the midst of the Cotton Famine.

Taking a humanitarian stance 160 years ago was right then. I hope we can look back and say we made the right choices in 2023.

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