The Conservative general election candidate for Oldham East and Saddleworth, Kashif Ali, has said economic regeneration and jobs are the main priorities of his campaign to become our next MP. He also told Saddleworth News that he wanted traditional Conservative supporters who may have voted tactically for the Liberal Democrats in the recent past, to back the Tories once again.
Mr Ali said that just 1% of the council tax budget goes on measures to help regenerate the local economy, and he called for that figure to rise to 5%. As well as the Conservatives’ proposal to partially reverse Labour’s planned increase in National Insurance, Mr Ali said he supported cheaper local car parking charges, and increased police patrols, to help small businesses in particular.
On transport, Mr Ali said he “just can’t understand” why more extra carriages haven’t been provided for trains running through Greenfield. If elected, he promised to lobby hard for more capacity on existing trains, as well as for more regular rail and bus services.
Mr Ali described Tory plans for more affordable housing in rural areas as “radical.” He said the party would give local people “direct input” into what form any new housing developments should take, adding that it would “take the power away from politicians, away from local councils, and away from big corporate developers.”
Oldham Council came in for criticism from Mr Ali, who said, “it’s not clear to me that there’s been any real efficiency drive.” He criticised the council’s decision to introduce a new logo while also making some redundancies, describing the rebranding exercise as a “huge waste of money, and we see that a lot with the Liberal Democrats.”
When Mr Ali was selected as the Conservative candidate last year, the party’s local constituency chair Barbara Jackson stood down, complaining Mr Ali had been forced on them by the central party. However, Mr Ali said today that “just two people” left the association during the row, and he insisted the “vast majority” of Conservatives in the area are behind him.
Mr Ali works locally as a barrister, and I spoke to him at his home in Higginshaw this morning. We also discussed the planned Tesco at Greenfield, Metrolink, and the issues of trust in politics and MPs’ expenses.
You can listen to the interview in full by downloading it from here.
Also standing are David Bentley of UKIP, Gulzar Nazir from the Christian Party and the BNP’s Alwyn Stott. I intend to interview them later in the campaign.