Ed Miliband campaigns in Oldham ahead of by-election

Ed Miliband with Debbie Abrahams in Oldham
Image caption Ed Miliband was out in Oldham with Labour candidate Debbie Abrahams

Labour leader Ed Miliband is campaigning in Oldham East and Saddleworth ahead of the by-election.

The poll, to be held on 13 January, was triggered by a court decision annulling former Labour minister Phil Woolas's victory in May.

Mr Miliband has been out on the doorstep with Labour candidate Debbie Abrahams.

Tory leader David Cameron and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg are also due to visit the seat.

The prime minister has rejected claims the Conservatives are not working as hard as they normally would at a by-election in order to give their Lib Dem coalition partners a better chance of taking the seat.

The seat was a three-way marginal in May's general election, with Labour's Phil Woolas taking it from the Liberal Democrat candidate Elwyn Watkins by 103 votes. Conservative candidate Kashif Ali came third, 2,500 votes behind.

But the result was declared void by a special election court, which found Mr Woolas had lied about Mr Watkins in election literature.

Mr Woolas was stripped of his seat, expelled by the Labour Party and banned from standing for election for three years.

Mr Ali and Mr Watkins are both standing again.

'First opportunity'

The by-election is viewed as the first major test of how the Conservatives and Lib Dems intend to campaign against each other, while working together in the coalition government.

It is also the first large scale test of public opinion since Ed Miliband took over as Labour leader.

In a speech to local Labour activists, Mr Miliband said the people of Oldham East and Saddleworth had the "first opportunity to send a message to this government about what they are doing".

He said the by-election would be about jobs, the 2.5% VAT rise which comes into effect on Tuesday and coalition ministers "betraying their promises".

He said: "They are cutting too far and too fast when they should be prioritising jobs and growth.

"They are betraying the future of our young people.

"And they are betraying the promises they made at the general election.

"There are only two choices at this election. Do you support candidates who will support the VAT rise, who will support police cuts, who will support the betrayal of the people of Oldham East and Saddleworth? Or do you support Debbie Abrahams?"

Conservative Party chairman Baroness Warsi joined her party's candidate, Mr Ali, on the campaign trail before Christmas, describing him as "a local lad, a strong campaigner who continues to fight for the people of this community".


Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes has denied there was any electoral pact with the Conservatives, and dismissed opinion polls which put his party as low as 8%, compared to the 22% the party secured in the general election.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the mood of the party was "upbeat" and "we hope for a good result in the by-election in Oldham".

The full list of candidates (in alphabetical order) is:

  • Debbie Abrahams (Labour)
  • Derek Adams (British National Party)
  • Kashif Ali (Conservative)
  • Peter Allen (Green Party)
  • David Bishop (Bus-Pass Elvis Party)
  • The Flying Brick (Monster Raving Loony Party)
  • Loz Kaye (Pirate Party of the United Kingdom)
  • Stephen Morris (English Democrats)
  • Paul Nuttall MEP (UK Independence Party)
  • Elwyn Watkins (Liberal Democrats)

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