Five final candidates have been confirmed to battle it out to become Pendle’s next Member of Parliament.
Conservative Andrew Stephenson, who has been elected in the last three general elections, will hope to hold onto his seat against the challenge of Labour’s Azhar Ali, Liberal Democrat Gordon Lishman, the Green Party’s Clare Hales and independent candidate John Richardson.
The nation will go to the polls on Thursday, December 12th.
Mr Stephenson, a staunch ally of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, will be confident he can again retain the seat he first won in 2010 when he beat Labour stalwart Gordon Prentice.
However, the 2017 election was a close-run contest for Mr Stephenson who beat Labour challenger Wayne Blackburn, receiving 21,986 votes to Mr Blackburn’s 20,707. This year, Lancashire County Coun. Azhar Ali will represent Labour, as he did in 2015.
Mr Ali said: “We’ve had nine years of Conservative cuts and austerity which has brought the NHS and public services to its knees.
“The general election is not another referendum on Brexit. It should be about who picks a government for the next five years and what their domestic agenda will be.”
The former Director General of Age Concern, respected social and elder rights activist, Gordon Lishman CBE, is standing for the Liberal Democrats.
He said: “Brexit was the wrong decision for our country, for Pendle folk, for our economy and for our children’s futures.
“If we leave, we in East Lancashire will be the biggest losers because we still make things here and manufacturing will be hardest hit – above all, with a crash-and-burn no deal Brexit.”
The Green Party’s Clare Hales framed next month’s vote as “the climate election”, something she believes is much more important than Brexit.
Clare said: “We see flooding up and down the country and it worsens every year. We need more investment in proper flood defences for areas badly affected as a result of the changing climate.
“The government should at least commit to protecting those most at risk - like the people of Earby, Barrowford and Foulridge.”
Lifelong Nelson resident aerial engineer John Richardson is standing as an independent candidate.
He said: “I can see a need for change and there is only one way to send a message to our political parties and that’s boycotting the major parties and voting for someone who cares more about Pendle than they do about the party.”