Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Gough discussed MP bid with Cameron

Cricket star Darren Gough will campaign for the Conservatives in the March 3 by-election in Barnsley Central

David Cameron phoned cricket star Darren Gough to talk to him about becoming a Conservative MP, it has been revealed.

Barnsley-born Gough had spoken to local Tories about the possibility of fighting an upcoming by-election in the town, and the Prime Minister called him to say he thought it was a great idea.

But the former Yorkshire and England star, who won TV's Strictly Come Dancing in 2005, decided that his other commitments made him too busy to be an MP.

Instead he will campaign for the Conservatives in the March 3 by-election in Barnsley Central, triggered by the resignation of former Labour MP Eric Illsley, who faces sentencing for fiddling parliamentary expenses.

Conservatives have no real prospect of winning the safe Labour seat, but a high-profile candidate like Gough could have helped them put a dent in the massive 11,093 majority secured by Mr Illsley at last year's General Election.

A Tory spokesman said: "We are delighted that Darren will be campaigning for the Conservatives during the by-election, but his other commitments meant he can't actually be the candidate."

The Conservatives' candidate for Barnsley Central has been confirmed as James Hockney, who fought the neighbouring seat of Barnsley East in last year's general election.

Mr Hockney said that if elected he would "passionately fight for jobs, investment and a brighter future for the community".

Describing him as an "outstanding candidate", Conservative chairman Baroness Warsi said: "Our campaign here is under way, we are out listening to voters in the constituency, and I am looking forward to campaigning alongside James."

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