The Andy Kelly Interview

August 12, 2019 8:24 PM
By Richard Eden-Maughan Edited by Ted McDermott
Andy Kelly 1 (Artemis Images (Rochdale)) Andy Kelly 2 (Artemis Images (Rochdale)) Andy Kelly 3 (Artemis Images (Rochdale))

Councillor Andy Kelly (Milnrow & Newhey), leader of Rochdale Liberal Democrats, took a rare break in his busy schedule to talk to us about local and national politics in 2019 and beyond.

Doing what we say

First of all we talked about his re-election by the Milnrow & Newhey ward with a majority of 1200 votes. Andy pointed out that this was not simply the result of a great campaign that lasted a few weeks. It was the excellent track record that he and his LibDem ward colleagues Cllr. Irene Davidson and Cllr. Dave Bamford have established over many years.

'"We say what we will do, and we do what we say,' says Andy. "We don't have a magic wand, but we are always there for the people of Milnrow & Newhey".

Connecting in Rochdale

Andy remains confident that liberal values still resonate in Rochdale - the hometown of John Bright - but there is work to do to connect with voters.

"It was great to see our vote share rise significantly but sadly it wasn't quite enough to get the breakthrough we were hoping for. But it was great to see the Liberal Democrats gain over 700 council seats around the country in May. That's down to people embracing the LibDem values of freedom, equality and fairness and our clear stance on Brexit."

"Unlike Labour and the Tories we can't count on votes," he says. "We have to work hard for them, but where we work we win! The trajectory points to the LibDem's becoming the official - and vocal - opposition to Labour in Rochdale very soon."

Europe matters

Hot on the heels of the local elections came the European elections. Andy was delighted to see his old friend Chris Davies returned to the European Parliament, representing the Northwest. The Libdem surge continued when Jane Dodds overturned a massive Tory majority to capture Breacon & Radnorshire - and just when it seemed things couldn't get better - the golden opportunity to re-take Nick Clegg's old Sheffield Hallam seat haspresented itself

"It's obvious that the LibDem's unapologetic position on Brexit and the excellent work done for the local elections were vital ingredients in our European & By- Election success," he says.

"There's a growing voter understanding of what we are walking away from. My late father-in-law held some right wing views, but even he said that the EU had given us peace, security and prosperity."

Return to the poll booth

Andy believes that there will be a General Election before the end of 2019.

'With the four main parties all polling between 20% & 25% I wouldn't like to predict the overall result, but you can bank on more LibDems in the Houses of Parliament," he says. "As Labour moves further to the left and the Tories lurch to the right, only the LibDems speak for the centre ground.

"One of the big reasons I'm so confident is the polling surge we had after the election of our new leader Jo Swinson. It was a very tough choice between Jo and Sir Ed Davey and both were great candidates to lead us forward after Sir Vince Cable's successful spell in the top job. But I think we've made the right choice.

"Jo has great experience - she was an MP at just 25, the baby of the House. She brings vitality, wisdom and she speaks her mind, which I like. And at just 39 she's going to be around for a long time. I see her as a future Prime Minister and a good one at that."

Final Thought

Before he had to dash off, and considering the likely General Election this year and coming Local elections in 2020, he left us with this thought:

"When you are in the voting booth, ask yourself what the sitting candidate has done for you. If They're Doing Nowt - Vote 'Em Out! - Vote LibDem!"