Simon Danczuk MP

Fighting for Rochdale, Littleborough and Milnrow

Letter from Parliament 11 September

I want to start by paying tribute to Jim Dobbin MP. Like everyone else I was shocked to hear of his death at the weekend. I’d only seen him a few days before on the Friday when he’d attended the bedroom tax debate in parliament. So I was absolutely stunned to hear the terrible news on Sunday. Politics is a tough business and it really is a testament to Jim’s incredible commitment to public service that he’d spent over 30 years in public life, first on the council, where he became leader of Rochdale Council, and then in parliament.

On occasion I’d ask Jim for advice, usually on religious matters, and I always appreciated his counsel. I didn’t always agree with Jim, but I was proud to call him a colleague. As a Scot and big believer in the union I know he was keen to see next week’s referendum deliver a ‘no’ vote to keep Scotland with us. It looks as though the vote is going to be very close, but I hope he’ll get his wish and we’ll remain a United Kingdom.

On this matter I am 100 per cent agreed with Jim that we are better off together. If Scotland were to vote against staying in the United Kingdom it would end an historic relationship, present Britain with a constitutional crisis and signify the start of a very messy divorce.

Politics is more volatile than usual at the moment and we could all learn from Jim’s trademark calmness. Especially as we go into what I expect will be a difficult and bad tempered by-election in Heywood and Middleton. The main challengers will be UKIP and the noises coming from their camp already suggest they will seek to exploit some of the recent tragedies that have hit our town, notably the grooming scandal and the tragic death of Lee Rigby. The wounds of these events are still healing in our community and I hope that UKIP think long and hard before trying to rip them open again in a very opportunistic way purely for party political reasons.​

A few weeks ago I said I was pleased to see encouraging signs of confidence returning to Rochdale and that remains the case. It’s good to see Morrisons will be opening a store opposite the Metrolink terminal and I hope to see more businesses investing in our town centre soon. It’s important that we get the right mix, though, with a strong backbone of small businesses.

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