Pendle’s Azhar Ali OBE has been selected as the Labour candidate for Rochdale.

The county councillor who has also stood for Labour in Pendle in the past will take part in a by-election in early May, although no date has been confirmed.

Azhar became a county councillor in 2013 before taking on the role of Labour leader for Lancashire County Council. In 2020, he received an OBE for services to the community in the North West. Azhar also had a five year stint in as a government advisor, serving under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

The by-election for the constituency follows the death of Sir Tony Lloyd, aged 73 on 17 January.

Following the announcement Azhar said he was 'proud and humbled' and paid tribute to Sir Tony. 

He said: “We know there are going to be people who are going to cause divisions and the media spotlight is going to be on us.

“I know when we get together we can beat anyone. We are doing this for the Labour Party and we are also doing this for Tony Lloyd.

“Making sure his legacy keeps going and we get together as one community.”

Azhar also thanked his fellow shortlisted candidates.

Labour North West said: “Azhar will be a strong voice for Rochdale and send this Conservative Government a clear message. It’s time to end the chaos. Let the country have its say and let us get Britain’s future back.”

Sir Tony first became a Labour MP 40 years ago in 1983 and was a foreign minister between 1997 and 1999. He was later appointed shadow housing minister and became chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party.