Rochdale by-election: Candidates list

Ballot box
The people of Rochdale will go to the polls on Thursday 29 February
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A by-election prompted by the death of MP Tony Lloyd will be held in Rochdale on 29 February.

Sir Tony died on 17 January, days after announcing he had an incurable form of leukaemia.

Eleven people have put themselves forward to be the town's next MP.

The late MP secured a majority of more than 9,000 in the 2019 general election.

The deadline to register to vote in the by-election is midnight on 13 February.

A change in the law last year means people who want to vote in person will have to remember to bring a form of photo ID with them.

Candidates are listed in alphabetical order by surname.

Azhar Ali - Labour

Azhar Ali
Azhar Ali

Azhar Ali is the Labour leader on Lancashire County Council and was chosen from a shortlist of three.

However, on 12 February Labour said it had "withdrawn support" for him after comments he made regarding Israel.

It was too late for the party to replace Mr Ali as its candidate.

The decision means that Mr Ali will remain on the ballot as the Labour candidate for Rochdale, but if he is elected he will sit as a independent MP or join another party.

Mr Ali, from Brierfield in Lancashire, has been a councillor in Nelson East since 2013. He joined Pendle Council aged 24 and served a five-year stint as a government advisor under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

At his campaign launch event, he said: "In Rochdale there's a lot to do that Tony (Lloyd) started.

"I've set out my five pledges around reopening the maternity unit, investment in the town centre, and free breakfast clubs in the primary schools, and there is a long list of things that we need to do.

"And there's a real opportunity to send Rishi Sunak a clear message that Rochdale supports Labour and they want a general election to remove this government."

Reverend Mark Coleman - Independent

Mark Coleman
Mark Coleman

Mark Coleman is a long-time climate campaigner and Just Stop Oil supporter who was imprisoned for taking nonviolent direct action.

The 64-year-old worked as a vicar in Rochdale town centre until he retired in 2020 due to Parkinson's disease.

Mr Coleman said: "The people of Rochdale deserve the truth - and that is we need radical action on climate right now to stand any chance of a safe and stable future. Government policies have put us well on the way to climate hell, and the Labour Party is willing to let that happen.

"I want the people of Rochdale to be able to 'vote change' in this election to show they want failing Westminster politicians to step up and defend our future."

Simon Danczuk - Reform UK

Simon Danczuk
Simon Danczuk

A former Rochdale MP is standing in the by-election for Reform UK, the party founded by ex-UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

Simon Danczuk was elected as the Labour MP in 2010, but was suspended from the party in 2015 over allegations of what he called "inappropriate behaviour". He left the Labour Party in 2017 and stood as an independent in that year's general election, receiving 1.8% of the vote.

He said: "The reason I'm standing is because Rochdale's being let down by the main political parties. You've got the Conservatives nationally who are failing to grow the economy, and that impacts adversely on our town. And then secondly they're failing in terms of illegal immigration. It's just out of control and that again impacts on our town. Then locally you've got a lazy Labour Party running the council who are not delivering."

Iain Donaldson - Liberal Democrats

Iain Donaldson
Iain Donaldson

The Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate Iain Donaldson has promised to hold the Conservative government to account for "failings on the NHS, the cost of living crisis, and water companies polluting the rivers with filthy sewage".

He said: "The people of Rochdale have been hammered by the double whammy of a cost-of-living crisis and an NHS on its knees. This disastrous Conservative government has utterly failed our area and they need to be held to account.

"Locally, Labour have also taken people for granted because they just don't listen. It is vital that the people of Rochdale are represented with a voice that will take our community's issues right to the heart of Parliament and force ministers to address their concerns."

Paul Ellison - Conservative

Paul Ellison
Paul Ellison

Paul Ellison, the Conservative candidate in the by-election, was voted Rochdale Man of the Year in 2020 after he helped the borough gain national recognition in the Royal Horticultural Society In Bloom awards.

Mr Ellison, who runs a landscaping firm, said: "In places like Rochdale, people's aspiration can often be stifled by the impacts brought about by negative perceptions. If elected, I am determined to be a champion to the borough.

"I believe there is a great opportunity to show the difference a local candidate with Conservative values of working together, taking pride in your community, and facilitating growth can do, bucking the expectation of a so-called Labour safe seat.

"Labour can't say what they'd do, because they don't have a plan, which means nothing will get better - taking us back to square one."

George Galloway - Workers Party of Britain

George Galloway
George Galloway

Former Labour and Respect Party MP George Galloway said he was running to "teach Labour a lesson".

His Workers Party of Britain says it has a 10-point programme aimed at "building a new working class politics in Britain".

It "defends the achievements of the USSR, China, Cuba etc, not least the debt owed by humanity to the Soviet Union and Red Army in their war of liberation against German fascism".

Mr Galloway has contested by-elections in Greater Manchester before. He stood in the Gorton constituency in 2017 and won 5% of the vote.

He said the main focus of his campaign will be calling for a resolution to the conflict in Gaza, adding: "The number of people in Rochdale vitally concerned with the issues that preoccupy me... there's probably not a constituency in the whole country where there are more people concerned about Gaza than there are in Rochdale.

"[No] more people concerned about Kashmir than there are in Rochdale. So, as I have been a spokesman for these causes for more than half a century in both cases, it's obvious that I would be a candidate here."

Updated 10 February 2024 to expand upon the party's priorities

Michael Howarth - Independent

Michael Howarth
Michael Howarth

Michael Howarth is a "Rochdale born and bred" businessman who owns a number of bars in the borough and works and lives in the town.

He said he believed previous Rochdale MPs put their party before the town, and said "smartening up the town centre" would be one of his priorities.

He said: "Get the empty shops filled and the outlying areas, Millstone Road and the like. We've got to get businesses into town so my agenda would be to make an easier path to open a new business. Whether it be a shop, whether it be a printers, whatever it may be. Let's get businesses open quickly. The more businesses in town, the more jobs. The more jobs, the more prosperity. We can make Rochdale a great place to be."

William Howarth - Independent

William Howarth
William Howarth

Independent candidate Billy Howarth is a local campaigner who co-founded the support group Parents Against Grooming UK. He has recently campaigned for better housing for people affected by damp and mould.

He raised the £500 candidate registration fee from GoFundMe donations.

On the GoFundMe page, he said: "After 30 years of child abuse cover-ups, two tired leaderships accompanied by failures to protect the town's constituents, I have decided that this town needs to be independently represented.

"I am Rochdale born and bred and have the needs of Rochdale close to my heart. I truly believe I can make the changes that this town wants and deserves."

Guy Otten - Green Party

Guy Otten
Guy Otten

Guy Otten's name will appear on the ballot paper, but soon after the campaign began the Green Party said he would be stepping down over previously criticising Palestinians and the Islamic religion.

A Green Party spokesperson said: "The Rochdale Green Party candidate has said that he has 'decided to leave the stage' following social media posts made some years ago. As nominations have now closed, his name will still appear on the ballot. However, he will not take part in any campaigning between now and polling day.

"We do not comment on disciplinary matters regarding Green Party members. These are internal matters. However, we are clear, we condemn all forms of racism and discrimination and do not accept it from any Green Party representative or spokesperson."

  • Guy Otten has declined to do a minute manifesto

Ravin Rodent Subortna - Official Monster Raving Loony Party

The candidate for the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, Ravin Rodent Subortna, said that as MP he would campaign for the introduction of a 99p coin.

He said he would call for all roundabouts to have fairground carousels in the middle to tell cars where to go and prevent road rage.

Among his other policies is a plan for all new-build housing to have hedgehog homes included to help eradicate homelessness for hedgehogs, and making sure hedgehogs had lollipop signs to help them cross the road.

Ravin says he is aiming to win "zero votes" because "that would be fair to give everybody else a chance".

David Anthony Tully - Independent

David Tully
David Tully

Local businessman Dave Tully said he was standing in the election to "be a voice for the people of Rochdale across every community that wants to do good".

He said he was calling for the reinstatement of Rochdale's maternity ward, wanted more financial support for local businesses and would champion the community benefits of local amateur sports clubs including the rugby league club Rochdale Mayfield, where he is a committee member.

He added: "As an independent with no allegiance to any of the parties or any political views or opinions, I just want to do the best for my town and my community. That's basically what I want to achieve. That's what I'm going to advocate."


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