Rochdale by-election: former Labour MP Simon Danczuk bids to become Rochdale's first Reform MP
Date published: 01 February 2024
Simon Danczuk outside the Rochdale Pioneers Museum
Former Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk is trying his hand at becoming the town’s MP again, by standing for Reform UK.
The former Labour MP, 57, who was suspended from the party before standing as an independent in 2017, has announced he is hoping to win back the town which he represented for seven years between 2010 and 2017.
Speaking exclusively with Rochdale Online at the Baum, Mr Danczuk, who lives between Rochdale and London with his wife, Claudine Uwamahoro, hopes that his connections to Rochdale and Reform’s values will win him back the seat.
Having joined Reform three months ago, Mr Danczuk says Reform’s values aligned with his own personal ones, criticising his former party now for being ‘too woke’.
He explained: “I was always a traditional Labour. Labour used to stand for people in work but now it’s gone woke. So we’ve gone from Labour standing for work to Labour being woke, and this 'north London' type of Labour, Ed Miliband and Keir Starmer, is not my type of Labour at all.
“It’s important that Rochdale residents have a chance to vote for an alternative to the mainstream parties and I’m very pleased to stand and fight in Rochdale.”
His focuses, if elected, include protecting young people, reducing crime rates, improving transport links, improving Rochdale town centre and Yorkshire Street, supporting local businesses: “My agenda for Rochdale is about protecting our people, tackling crime, reducing crime. Improving transport links in the town, there’s still much more to do in terms of transport links in Rochdale. That ties in with helping create better paid jobs in the town, helping people through the skills levels so we can increase the local economy.
“The town centre remains a priority, the state of Yorkshire Street, it’s been skewed to the new shopping centre – which is great, I’m there regularly at the cinema or eating there with my boys – but we can’t neglect the rest of the town centre.
“It’s got a good evening economy which is improved in recent times but there’s still much more to do in terms of the town centre. Sort out the Wheatsheaf Centre – you can’t have the Wheatsheaf sat there empty like it is that has to be a big priority.
“Supporting businesses is another key priority.”
Mr Danczuk also touched on the deporation of the three members of the grooming gang. He helped to expose the grooming gangs back in 2017 and has condemned the government for failing to act.
Mr Danczuk said: “I will move heaven and earth to get them deported. It is absolutely appalling and disgraceful.”
He elaborated: “When I was MP, I met a number of the victims, helped them with housing and other issues and met their families I condemned the perpetrators I did all I possibly could to get them sent back to their country of origin and campaigned heavily on that.”
He added: “We are, and I am, in it to win it. We fully intend winning it and I’ve already been campaigning, we’ve got support, I’ve submitted my nomination and look forward to the 29 February and the days leading up to it.”
“Out of all the candidates that I am aware of, there’s nobody knows Rochdale better than I do. I have exceptionally strong ties in the town, my children live and go to school in this town, I own property in the town, I’ve represented the town.
“I know what the challenges are for the town; I know what the people like and what they don’t like. I don’t know whether it gives me an advantage; I’m not taking anything for granted, that's for sure.
“I’m deeply proud of my campaigning over the years. Rochdale and our country are crying out for change.
“We are all proud of Rochdale, its people and its fantastic history. But Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak don’t care about our town, they continue to take us for granted.”
Richard Tice, the Reform UK leader, said: “Rochdale needs an MP who will challenge the lazy Labour local council. We need an MP prepared to challenge Labour’s vested interests.
“We need an MP who will challenge, not cover-up, Labour wrongdoing.
“Simon Danczuk, with all his knowledge, his guts and experience, is best placed to challenge and change Rochdale for the better.”
Outside of politics, Mr Danczuk is a business and political consultant, part-time author, and is a regular commentator on GB News.
He concluded: “I will put 100% into being an MP and look forward to opening a shop and being visible in the town and accessible with weekly Friday surgeries throughout the year.”
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