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Worcester Conservatives attack "astonishing" Jabba Riaz election leaflet
A FORMER Tory councillor in Worcester who sensationally quit to join Labour is embroiled in a dispute with his old party - who say they are "absolutely astonished" by claims in his pre-election leaflet.
Worcester Conservative Association has attacked Councillor Jabba Riaz, saying the politician is trying to fool thousands of residents with a newsletter sent around the Cathedral ward.
In the leaflet, he says he quit the Tories because they were "out of touch" with Worcester people and had run "out of ideas" for the city.
He also says he came to realise the Conservatives had "little ambition" for Worcester.
As your Worcester News revealed last October, Cllr Riaz quit after trying to secure a move to the safer seat of Battenhall for next month's city council elections.
After being rejected in a selection process, just days afterwards he resigned to join Labour, and is now standing for his new party in Cathedral under a red banner.
Cllr Riaz has since maintained David Cameron's "disastrous" policies were behind him swapping sides, and says he would have left the Tories even if he did get selected for Battenhall.
But Worcester Conservative Association has accused him of "spin" and says it is "angry" about the leaflet claims.
David Tibbutt, chairman of the branch, said: "We are absolutely astonished.
"As an individual Jabba is a nice lad, he's well educated, but what's he's said just does not ring true.
"When he told us he wanted to be selected for Battenhall (instead of Cathedral) I was involved in the process and he was asked, clearly, 'do you disagree with any Tory policies at a local or national level', and he said no.
"At no stage did he ever say we were out of touch.
"To then completely change and within around 48 hours start saying the complete opposite, you have to question his motives.
"The electorate will make a judgement and I hope it's on facts rather than spin because you can't go around doing this sort of thing.
"I have never seen it before, I'm saddened but angry by the political deception because it gives politics a bad name."
In the leaflet Cllr Riaz says he saw the "hardship caused in Worcester by Tory policies", citing the growth in food banks, homelessness, benefit cuts and the spare-room subsidy.
Written in third person, it also he "came to realise" Conservative councillors lacked ideas in the city.
Yesterday he said: "I am baffled as to why they are raising this, what is on the leaflet is exactly the same as what I said back in October.
"I came to realise what damage national Tory policies were having in Worcester, you can't brush those realities under the carpet.
"I have nothing against anyone in the party, it is just a clash of ideologies."
He is defending a majority of 506 in Cathedral, in a seat considered on a knife-edge.
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