Manchester

Labour select Debbie Abrahams as Oldham candidate

Debbie Abrahams
Image caption Debbie Abrahams is the new candidate for Oldham East and Saddleworth

Members of the Labour Party in Oldham East and Saddleworth have selected Debbie Abrahams as their candidate for next year's by-election.

Labour MP Phil Woolas lost his seat there last month when an election court ruled he broke election law.

The court found that the former immigration minister had knowingly lied about his Liberal Democrat opponent, Elwyn Watkins, in election leaflets.

Party members voted on Sunday at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in Oldham.

Riaz Ahmad and Abdul Jabbar were also standing in the party's election.

Ms Abrahams said it was "an honour and a privilege" to have been selected.

Despite resigning as chair of Rochdale Primary Care Trust in 2006, stating that ruling Labour was "threatening the future of an NHS that is equitable and free at the point of need", she said she was now fully behind the party.

"If I wasn't I wouldn't be standing," she told the BBC.

She said in 2006 there had been issues around healthcare reform that she did not agree with - prompting her to resign from the PCT.

'Real issues'

She said: "Now I'm looking forward to getting out and meeting as many residents as possible in the next few weeks to listen to their concerns.

"It's important that the real issues and concerns of people in the borough are not lost during this by-election campaign.

"Focussing on these issues is the way to unite the borough."

She added: "People feel let down by the Lib Dem-Tory broken promises on police cuts, tuition fees and VAT. It doesn't have to be this way, there is an alternative.

"This is an opportunity for people to send a message to the government.

"Oldham East and Saddleworth needs a Labour MP who will stand up and fight for them. I'm determined to keep my promises and deliver the best possible deal for people in this borough."

Mr Woolas was banned from standing in a Parliamentary election for three years and suspended from the Labour Party.

Ms Abrahams is a public health consultant and a former director of public health research at Liverpool University.

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