Azhar Ali chosen as Labour candidate for Rochdale seat in upcoming by-election

Date published: 27 January 2024

Lancashire Labour group leader Azhar Ali has been chosen by the Labour party as its candidate for the Rochdale parliamentary by-election.

Mr Ali was voted for by Labour members on Saturday 27 January from a shortlist that included Rochdale-born Westminster journalist Paul Waugh and Wigan councillor Nazia Rehman.

Following the death of the Rochdale MP, Sir Tony Lloyd on 17 January, a by-election for the Rochdale seat will be held this year with a general election to follow by January 2025.

A date for the by-election has not been set as yet.

Mr Ali, leader of Lancashire County Council’s Labour group, previously made the Labour longlist as the Heywood and Middleton parliamentary candidate. Rochdale councillor Elsie Blundell was named the preferred candidate.

The “Pendle born-and-bred” councillor for Nelson East was leader of Pendle Council from 2000 to 2003, having joined the council when he was 24.

He started his political career as the leader of the Students Union at Nelson and Colne College and was the first British Asian to be appointed chairman of a UK regional assembly (the North West Regional Assembly, which was abolished in 2008).

Mr Ali is a Burnley FC fan and was also awarded an OBE in the 2020 New Year’s Honours list for his service to the community in the North West.

Reacting to his selection, Mr Ali said: "I am proud and humbled to be chosen by our local party members as the Labour candidate for the Rochdale by-election.

"Sir Tony Lloyd was a dear friend of mine and a dedicated public servant. He was admired and respected far and wide - and I intend to follow in his footsteps and be a champion for Rochdale in Parliament.

"I promise to be a strong voice for every community across our town and to get things done.

"There is a lot to do and I will get to work straight away, fighting your corner."

He added: "Along with the council, the NHS, public bodies and local businesses, I will work to bring new investment to Rochdale, strengthening our economy and public services.

"The people here in Rochdale have had enough of paying the price for Tory failure.

"They have crashed our economy and brought our NHS to its knees.

"After five Tory Prime Ministers, we are left with mortgages, rents, food bills and energy costs out of control, longer hospital waiting lists and neighbourhood policing destroyed.

"Only a Labour government will build an economy in the interests of people in Rochdale.

"Only Labour will rebuild our public services and make our streets and communities safe.

"We cannot afford another five years of Tory failure and this by-election is a chance to send a clear message to Rishi Sunak: Give us a general election now."

Do you have a story for us?

Let us know by emailing
All contact will be treated in confidence.

To contact the Rochdale Online news desk, email or visit our news submission page.

To get the latest news on your desktop or mobile, follow Rochdale Online on Twitter and Facebook.

While you are here...

...we have a small favour to ask; would you support Rochdale Online and join other residents making a contribution, from just £3 per month?

Rochdale Online offers completely independent local journalism with free access. If you enjoy the independent news and other free services we offer (event listings and free community websites for example), please consider supporting us financially and help Rochdale Online to continue to provide local engaging content for years to come. Thank you.

Support Rochdale Online