Torbay leader wants to be MP

The Lib Dem leader of Torbay Council is to challenge the area’s Conservative MP at the next general election.

Paul Nero

Cllr Steve Darling currently heads the Liberal Democrat/Independent coalition that runs the council. He’s been a councillor in Torquay for 28 years and worked for former Lib Dem MP Adrian Sanders as a caseworker for 18 years.

Despite three decades in politics, the Lib Dem chairperson in the area claims he is not a career politician.

Mr Darling wants to oust former immigration minister Kevin Foster, who was a member of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss’s governments.

Mr Foster took the seat from the Lib Dems in 2015. But with most polls suggesting that the Tories are facing electoral wipeout, the Lib Dems are likely to think they would have a good chance of taking back Torbay.

It will be a challenge. Mr Foster has grown his majority considerably since being elected. In 2015, he took the seat with a 40 per cent majority, increased that in the 2017 general election, which was generally a bad one for the Tories under Theresa May, and then put on more votes in 2019 under Boris Johnson’s leadership.

With the announcement that Steve Darling is to stand, it makes the fourth candidate for the party in four elections.

Announcing his candidacy, Mr Darling said: “We must demand better for Torbay from the government. The lack of support in this cost-of-living crisis has shown that Conservative MPs are taking us for granted. Torbay needs a strong voice in parliament and I will be that voice.”

“When speaking to residents across the Bay they tell me they are tired of the lies, scandals and dishonesty associated with the Conservative Party. The Liberal Democrats will tax fairly those who have gained the most while others have struggled, and will invest in our coastal communities, create sustainable jobs, protect pensions, our NHS and social care, and take climate change seriously.”   

Chair of Torbay Liberal Democrats Pam Bagnall said: “Steve is not a career politician, he knows and understands our area and wants to work for the people of the Bay. As we have learnt in the past, if we want a strong caring voice in Parliament we have to unite behind the Liberal Democrats in Torbay because votes for Labour, Greens and others only split the vote and let the Tories win.”

Before the general election, which must be held before January 2025, Torbay will have local election this May.

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