Express & Star

We met the Tory chairman in Dudley ahead of local elections - his confidence surprised us

The chairman of the Conservative Party said he is continuing to carry a positive outlook for his party.


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Richard Holden has said he believes in the work the party is doing, particularly the work of people at ground level and the hard work being done by MPs and councillors.

He was in the region on Thursday to meet with Dudley North MP Marco Longhi, Police and Crime Commissioner candidate Tom Byrne and a host of councillors and candidates from across Dudley at Sedgley Conservative Club.

Mr Holden posed for photos and enjoyed a pint of Guinness with those present. He said he was delighted to be there to meet the councillors and candidates and let them know that he was fully behind them in what he described as a crucial time for the region, offering full praise to the current mayor Andy Street.

He said: “This is going to be a crucial part when we’re talking about the West Midlands Mayoral election, which are big elections this year, and I’m really determined around not just the local stuff, but about the investment projects that are coming to the region.

“I think, over the last few years, people can see both locally in the Black Country and also further across the West Midlands what Andy has brought in terms of this huge investment and I know that he doesn’t want to stop.

“That’s one of the great things about Andy, he’s got that deep, public-spirited view of life and he wants to keep going because he wants to keep delivering for local people.”

Mr Holden was in Sedgley to meet MPs, Councillors and candidates from across Dudley borough

Mr Holden said he felt Mr Street could keep his position in the upcoming election, although he said it would be a really tough one, – citing how the polling had changed since the 2021 election – but saying that the Conservatives were the way forward to stability, describing the Labour PPC leadership in London around knife crime as a major issue.

He said: “It’s not going to be easy and we know that when the elections happened in 2021, we were polling at 44 per cent, 10 points ahead of Labour, whereas it’s obviously not the same as the positions are reversed, but I’ve got every confidence that we can turn about these numbers.

“We can turn it around for great MPs like Marco in the General Election, but also for the local elections, and there are tough fights, but I believe you can see that Conservative councils deliver the best services locally.

“When it comes to the Mayoralty and the PCC, we have to see Conservatives in as Labour are running the PCC and it’s all gone to hell in a handcart and you can see in London what’s happening and that if it wasn’t for London, the knife crime numbers would see a substantial drop, but London is so bad.

“The PCC there is not looking after it and it’s so bad that it’s starting to tip the national numbers, so we don’t want to see that happen in the West Midlands and we want great Conservatives as Mayor and as PCC.”

He was keeping a confident outlook on all matters Conservative, having travelled across the country to support candidates and spread the word about the work the party was doing.

He also downplayed predictions and polls which pointed to an electoral landslide by Labour – some polls of which predicted the Conservative Party would have fewer than 100 MPs.

Richard Holden said he gave his backing and support to Dudley North MP Marco Longhi and West Midlands PCC candidate Tom Byrne

He said that the conversations he was having with people didn’t play with that prediction, and also said he felt the Labour Party were only that in name and had no plan at all.

He said: “The key thing is having conversations on the doorsteps with people and I have found that when people are presented with the option of a Conservative council and mayor and what has happened with Labour-run councils like Birmingham, then I think they’re going to come back to the Conservatives.

“I’m really confident that we can do that and it’s the same at national level when it comes to the election as people can have hardworking MPs like Marco and Mike Wood or they can have Kier Starmer walking through the doors of Number 10.

“He’s the man who takes the knee to every woke cause and changes his opinions faster than fast fashion, which we all know is cheap, tacky and falls apart at the seams, which is exactly what happens with Kier Starmer’s arguments and positions.

“I am convinced that over the next few months that we can show we are a united party delivering in the interests of the people and that the only thing from working people about Labour these days is its name.

“When it comes to working people, we are the ones voting to cut taxes for them, helping to ensure the triple lock pension is in place and we all know that every single majority Labour government has left with unemployment higher than when it started, so I think the choice is clear for my party, the Conservative party.”

Mr Holden spoke with Marco Longhi about local issues, including the Crooked House. He said he fully supported Mr Longhi’s work and said that he hoped to see the iconic pub building for the whole Black Country rebuilt as soon as possible.

Mr Holden also said he felt that Dudley, which saw all four seats turn blue in 2019, could remain that way, and said that the elections were vital for the whole region and people should use their right to vote.

He said: “We’ve got three big elections this time around as we have the Mayoral elections, the PCC elections and, thirdly, in Dudley, we’ve got an all-out election, which means three votes in every ward for your local councillors.

“From my side, I’d like people to vote for three Conservatives, plus Mayor Street and Tom Byrne for the PCC, so it’s a really big set of elections here in Dudley.”

Both Marco Longhi and Tom Byrne spoke of their appreciation for Richard Holden’s visit, thanking him for taking time out of his schedule to come to Sedgley.

Mr Longhi said: “It means a huge amount as Richard and I go back a few years and I know his style of campaigning, which is very similar to mine.

“For the chairman to come and spend time here in Dudley North with his busy schedule, with so many constituencies around the country, including his own, I’m delighted he’s able to come and spend an hour with me and support our local councillors and candidates.”

Tom Byrne said: “I think it’s really important to have the chairman here supporting us as I know he’s got a very busy schedule and I’m pleased that he’s taken time out to support local council candidates and my own campaign to become PCC.

“I think there’s a lot at stake with these elections as I feel that Labour have failed on regional crime, so I’m putting putting forward my own plan to get a grip on crime and I’m really pleased that Richard has found time to come and support us.”