Yvonne Ridley, the former Sunday Express journalist who was held hostage in Afghanistan, is bidding to become an MP.
Ridley – who converted to Islam after being held by the Taleban in September 2001 – is standing in the Leicester South by-election for Respect, the anti-war party founded by expelled Labour MP, George Galloway.
The by-election, on 15 July, has been caused by the death of long-serving Labour MP, Jim Marshall, and Ridley will face five other candidates, with former Leicester City Council leader, Sir Peter Soulsby, trying to retain the seat for Labour.
Sir Peter said of Ridley: “Three years ago she discovered Afghanistan. Now she wants to discover Leicester. A-Zs of the city are available from WH Smith for £4.45.”
Ridley – who was released after 10 days in captivity – said she was delighted to be selected and pointed out that Respect had won more than 8,000 votes in the city in the European elections. “I’m not just fighting this seat to compete,” she said. “I’m fighting it to win, and I believe we can win.”
Galloway described the by-election as one of the most important in recent history. “Yvonne Ridley has star quality,” he said, “and people will stand up and take notice of what she has to say.”
One weapon in Ridley’s armament is that Labour lost control of the city council last year in an anti-war backlash from Leicester’s thousands of Muslim voters.
by Roger Bushby