Rochdale’s Labour candidate promises to bring communities together – and tackle ‘bread and butter issues’

Date published: 07 February 2024

The Labour candidate in the Rochdale by-election has promised to bring communities together – and tackle ‘bread and butter issues’ brought up on the doorstep.

Azhar Ali is seeking to become the next MP for Rochdale on 29 February after the death of sitting MP Sir Tony Lloyd triggered the poll.

The Lancashire County councillor and former government adviser said he wants to be a strong voice for the borough.

He addressed the cost of living crisis and a series of local issues during his campaign launch on Wednesday morning (7 February). 

Reopening the maternity unit; reducing crime and antisocial behaviour; regenerating the town centre; and creating free breakfast clubs in every primary school were among his pledges at the event at Number One Riverside. 

Former Labour and Respect Party MP George Galloway launched his own campaign on Tuesday evening.

There were cheers – including from Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham – as the Labour hopeful said he would fight anyone’s attempts to divide Rochdale

Councillor Ali said: “There are 10 other candidates with their own story to tell, but mine is a positive story, I’m not interested in the opposition. I’m here to win this. I am not here to represent one part of the community, I am here to represent the whole of Rochdale.

“Bringing people together, moving forward and making sure the people of Rochdale are better off in the coming years.

“People on the doorstep are saying that Gaza is a massive issue, it is for me as well. On the doorstep people are talking about bread and butter issues – talking about not being able to pay their bills and worried about the schools they’re in, not getting doctors or dentist appointments. Those issues mean a lot to the people of Rochdale. 

“I don’t want to be a candidate that divides communities, I want to be one that brings people together and then we can move forward as one.”

Mr Burnham said 2024 has to be a year of change for the north – starting in Rochdale. 

He added: “The Conservative Party is guilty of perpetrating a huge fraud on the people of the north of England and they won’t forget it.”

Councillor Ali said he would continue Tony Lloyd’s work if elected. “Tony was a really good friend of mine and he has done a great job here in Rochdale and I want to follow and build the legacy for Tony and for the people,” he added. “There’s a lot to do that Tony started, which is incorporated into my pledges.

“The Tory record in government is devastating, that’s why we need a Labour government to start the work of rebuilding. Some of it has already started, Andy Burnham talked about the Bee Network and the amount of money going in from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to regenerate the town centre and build new housing.

“There is a lot of work that has already started, but it needs a catalyst and that catalyst is a Labour government.”

George Lythgoe, Local Democracy Reporter

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