Monday, 29 June 2009

Race is on for city by-election

The race is on to find Norwich's new MP after the Labour party revealed its candidate to replace Ian Gibson in the forthcoming by-election.
Chris Ostrowski, 28, was selected by party members in the constituency as the candidate for the vacant Norwich North seat. He is a UEA graduate who has been active in the Norwich Labour Party but more recently has been a member of the Labour Party and Christian Socialist movement in London. He was also a candidate for the Eastern region in this month's European elections.
All the major parties now have candidates in place for a by-election campaign, though there is still no date for polling day.
Today, the stream of leading politicians of all parties was due to bring culture secretary Ben Bradshaw to Sparhawk school in Sprowston while shadow aviation minister Julian Brazier was due at Norwich airport.
Yesterday and today, UK Independence Party (Ukip) leader Nigel Farage has been in Norwich. Green Party leader Caroline Lucas is visiting the city tomorrow.
Mr Ostrowski said after the selection: “It's a privilege to get the chance to go from here and speak with my friends and all of the people in Norwich North to ask them to vote for me to become their MP.
“Let me be clear, we will run a positive campaign. We will proudly talk up Labour's achievements and we will always be proud of Norwich.
“Where I think the threat of Conservative cuts could damage Norwich or hurt the chances of its people, I will speak out. This is not negative campaigning and I will not needlessly raise fears, but people deserve to have the choice put in front of them, and I will always do that.
“I look forward to an energetic and fair campaign and I can't wait to meet the voters.”
Norwich South MP Charles Clarke said: “Chris Ostrowski is a very strong candidate for Labour in the Norwich North by-election. He knows and understands Norwich well and will fight for the needs of his constituents with intelligence and determination.”
Around 50 members attended the selection meeting at the Holiday Inn in north Norwich yesterday.
John Cowan, vice chairman of Norfolk Labour Party, said: “It's very interesting that they've opted for a male candidate, my preference was always going to be for a female candidate.
“Chris is a fairly strong candidate. I worked with him during the Euro election campaign. He's obviously spent some time in Norwich at the UEA but it would've been nice to have someone a bit more local.”
Dr Gibson, who sparked a by-election by resigning when he was barred from re-standing as a Labour candidate in the row over his expenses, was not present. He did not comment on the selection last night though on Friday he hinted he might stand as an independent, depending on who was chosen.
Mr Clarke said he had not spoken to Dr Gibson about the selection, but said: “I know Ian knows Chris and respects him.”
The Conservative candidate is Chloe Smith, the Liberal Democrat candidate is April Pond and the Green candidate is Rupert Read. There is also a Ukip candidate, Glen Tingle, and two independents, Craig Murray, who is a former ambassador to Uzbekistan and Bill Holden. Mr Murray today stepped up his own campaign by taking out a full page advert in the EDP, the Evening News' sister paper.
Mr Ostrowski's selection means two of the candidates are under 30, with Chloe Smith 27 years old.
Norwich Evening News 24

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