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Jabba is no more Labour than I am, says Tory
ONE of Worcester’s best known former politicians is attempting to make a comeback - and has taken a controversial pop at one of his old Conservative colleagues.
Francis Lankester, who served on the city council from 1999 to last year’s elections before being voted out, has been selected as the Tory candidate for Cathedral.
The big-hitter, a former cabinet member, has also hit out at Councillor Jabba Riaz, the likely Labour candidate expected to be pitted against him in next year’s crunch count.
He says Coun Riaz, who sensationally quit the Tories and swapped sides earlier this month, “has no more Labour principles” than he does.
As your Worcester News revealed two weeks ago Coun Riaz, who currently represents Cathedral, tried to switch and become the Tory candidate for Battenhall, but was not selected.
Mr Lankester, who lives in Diglis, was a fellow Cathedral councillor but left the Guildhall distraught after losing by 60 votes to Labour’s Lynn Denham last year.
He has since completed a doctorate part-time at Durham University in ancient Egypt and says he is ready for a comeback.
“It’s always sad when someone you give your trust, loyalty and respect to lets you down - Jabba is no more a man of Labour principles than I am,” he said.
“He’s an intelligent and educated young man and a very good councillor, but in time I think he will realise he’s made a mistake.”
He said he considers the Cathedral ward, which takes in much of the city centre, a special place as he grew up there and lives locally.
“I am very happy to be selected, it was a great privilege to represent the city and Cathedral has always been in my heart,” he said.
“It’s great that a lot of the things I worked on are coming to fruition now, like the improvements to Fort Royal Park.”
Mr Lankester has also left a comment on our website, saying he failed to be selected by the Tories in the county council election for St Peter’s this year, but “did not throw my toys out of the pram”.
Coun Riaz, who insists he left the party because of “David Cameron’s disastrous policies”, has refuted the criticism.
He said: “It’s easy to get drawn into this, there’s a lot of factors why I left - Francis stood last year and lost to Lynn (Denham), that result showed he wasn’t the best candidate, it speaks volumes.
“Best of luck to him.”
Coun Riaz was responsible for drawing up a £1m bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for Fort Royal Park, which did not win but did lay the groundwork for today's newly-revamped site.
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