The West Midlands town of Dudley was recently voted the worst place to go shopping in the UK. And now it’s attracting controversy for another reason.
A Labour councillor claims her “Black Country accent” stopped her from being allowed to run for Parliament outside of Dudley as a Conservative candidate.
A local newspaper reports Glenis Simms, when standing in Dudley North in the 2010 elections, was shocked to be told she couldn’t do so outside the West Midlands. In the end her campaign ended in defeat by current Labour MP Ian Austin.
Councillor Simms alarmed many recently by joining the Labour party and revealed a letter from the Tories informing her of regional limitations.
In a statement she explains:
“It is common knowledge amongst my previous colleagues that after I sat the Parliamentary Assessment Board in 2010 I received a letter stating that I was allowed to stand in the West Midlands area only and that I could not apply for any seats outside of a set West Mids boundary.
“Upon enquiring why I wasn’t deemed suitable to stand outside of my local area, I was told that it was probably down to my accent. Obviously this is a plausible explanation, as if I was good enough to stand within the West Midlands then why wasn’t I good enough to stand anywhere else?
“I decided a few months later not to continue to pay the ongoing fees to stay on a list where I was drastically restricted with regards to opportunities.”
Another Conservative councillor, Cheryl Billingham, also moved to Labour and reports say both are now challenged to immediately fight a by-election.
Conservatives are contesting Simms’ claims; she says Afzal Amin, Tory candidate for Dudley North, denies them “vehemently,” but adds it’s worth noting he speaks without a regional accent.
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