Page last updated at 16:36 GMT, Tuesday, 27 April 2010 17:36 UK

Dari Taylor says North candidates 'ignored'

Dari Taylor
Ms Taylor said the televised leaders' debates were "flashy showtimes"

A Labour candidate has accused the party's leadership of ignoring its members standing in the North East.

Dari Taylor, whose Stockton South seat has been heavily targeted by the Conservatives, said the televised leaders' debates were too "flashy".

She said only a few cabinet ministers had visited her seat for small gatherings and has urged Gordon Brown to travel to the region.

The Labour Party said Ms Taylor's comments were "personal reflections".

'Too American'

On Sunday, Tory leader David Cameron visited Stockton South - where Ms Taylor has a notional 5,834 majority - as he pledged that the party is expanding its battleground.

Since the election campaign began, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has twice visited the North East.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's The World At One, Ms Taylor said: "We feel excluded. The leaders' debates are flashy showtimes.

"They are too American for most of us - they are about clothes and gestures and smiling.

"We actually want people to talk to us about the issues that are real and relevant to our lives."

She added: "I think it's essential that we have the prime minister within the region, hopefully speaking to as many people as he can, and more particularly listening to as many people as he can - that's a crucial thing."

MPs 'ignored'

James Wharton, Conservative candidate for Stockton South, said: "This is yet more evidence of Labour taking the North East for granted.

"How can Teesside have a strong voice in government when the region's MPs are ignored by their own party? "

A Labour North spokesperson said: "As Gordon Brown made clear, when he brought the entire cabinet to the region for the first time in history earlier this year, the future of the North East is incredibly important to the Labour Party.

"Just yesterday the prime minister made clear his determination to stand up for the people of the North East against David Cameron's planned cuts that would hit this region hard.

"This message has been reinforced by all the cabinet ministers who have visited the region over the last few weeks."

Lib Dem candidate Jacquie Bell said: "The Liberal Democrats are taking on the challenge in Labour's traditional North East heartland.

"It is great to be supported by Nick Clegg and Vince Cable who have visited the region several times to learn about the issues the North East is facing."

Candidates announced for Stockton South are:

Lib Dems: Jacquie Bell; UKIP: Peter Braney; Independent: Yvonne Hossack; BNP: Neil Sinclair; Christian Party: Ted Strike; Labour: Dari Taylor; Conservatives: James Wharton.

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