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MP attacks choice of 'Nokia Davies'

The bad-tempered debate which characterised the Hodge Hill by-election returned yesterday after the Liberal Democrats selected their unsuccessful candidate, Nicola Davies, to fight the seat again at the General Election.

Liam Byrne, the Labour candidate and now the constituency's MP, immediately attacked the decision.

He pointed out that immediately after the by-election in July, Ms Davies said she did not want to stand in Hodge Hill a second time.

And Labour also released a statement referring to "Nokia Davies", their nickname for the Lib Dem candidate, who works in the mobile phone industry.

Hodge Hill has traditionally been a safe Labour seat but Tony Blair's party only hung on to it by a whisker in the by-election.

A majority of more than 11,500 at the last General Election was slashed to just 460 votes, following a massive 27 per cent swing to the Liberal Democrats.

It followed a bitter campaign in which Labour organised demonstrations outside the Lib Dem headquarters, supposedly in protest at their phone mast policy.

But Ms Davis was also targeted by genuine phone masts campaigners, and made it clear after the vote that she did not want to stand again.

In a message on the Lib Dem website, she said: "I have decided not to stand in Hodge Hill at the next General Election, although I came very close to winning on July 15. The campaign was very hard fought and I am getting married in October."

Mr Byrne said yesterday: "She has said she does not want the seat and that she does not want to be the Lib Dem candidate for Hodge Hill.

"The Lib Dems have taken the extraordinary decision to select a flip-flop candidate that doesn't even want to stand here. And she works for phone mast lobbyists."

Last night Ms Davies said: "I did need some time after the by-election to recharge my batteries - and to get married. Then I was in a position to make decisions.

"I want to stand in Hodge Hill and to represent the constituency in Parliament.

"It looks like Labour will fight a personal and unpleasant campaign like before."

 

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