A would-be MP is urging her political opponents to sign a fair-fight pledge after a row over being local.
Election propaganda sent through doors across the Berwick Constituency, from Liberal Democrat candidate Julie Pörksen, has sparked comment.
The latest leaflet appears to pick on Conservative candidate Anne-Marie Trevelyan because she worked in London and it questions her status as a Northumbrian.
Anne-Marie said: “I am genuinely surprised that the Lib Dems have decided to try to pick a fight on my local credentials as I have been fighting for Northumberland and ‘being local,’ as they call it, for nearly 20 years.
“Whereas their candidate has been working in London for a firm of spin doctors and as a member of Nick Clegg’s team for the last 20 years. She stood as a council candidate for a London council seat recently claiming that she was local to Pimlico, one of the poshest parts of central London, having been there bringing up her kids for 10 years.
“Perhaps the Lib Dems who now seem to be running things locally would like to sign a pledge for a fair-fight campaign – in the last general election, which I fought against Alan Beith, we were able to have a civilised campaign where every candidate presented their plans and credentials honestly and without criticism of others.
“I came into politics because I hated all the spin peddled by Tony Blair and hoped that I might be able to bring some blunt honesty to representing our patch. Over my eight years as the Conservative candidate here voters have always said that is what they want, so perhaps the Lib Dem camp could join me and others in signing a fair-fight pledge.”
Julie said: “I grew up here in the Berwick constituency – many farming people know my father. One of the reasons I am so passionate about the right for free post-16 transport to college and school is because I used to get the school bus to Ponteland High School in the eighties so know first-hand what it’s like growing up in rural Northumberland with poor public transport and dependent on parents as a taxi-service - to be able to get to school should be a basic right.
“However, like many Northumbrians, the lack of local jobs forced me to move away. Moving back to Northumberland was the best thing I could ever do for my children. I want to represent the area where I grew up and which I love in Parliament to make sure that future generations aren’t forced to make the same decisions I had to, that there are well paid jobs and decent opportunities here for our young people.”
Professor John Hobrough, chairman of Berwick upon Tweed Liberal Democrats, added: “When we selected Julie as the successor to long-standing Liberal Democrat MP Sir Alan Beith back in October we felt that her experience working in agriculture here and abroad, as well as her work with several charities, had given Julie a set of skills which will make her an excellent local MP. She grew up and went to school here and moved back to give her children the rural childhood I know she valued. She knows what life in rural areas is like for people in Northumberland and this makes her an ideal person to truly represent the whole constituency.”