Marek chosen by Tories to fight for Assembly seat

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

VETERAN politician John Marek is bidding to make a sensational comeback to public office.

The former Labour MP and AM, who surprised many by joining the Conservatives earlier this year, will fight to regain his old seat at next year’s Assembly elections.

It will mean going head to head with old adversary Lesley Griffiths, the town’s Labour AM who once worked as Dr Marek’s secretary,

And the pair have already fired the opening salvos in a war of words ahead of the May contest.

Dr Marek said he thought his “good name” in Wrexham could give him the edge, while Miss Griffiths branded the former left-wing firebrand “fickle”.

Mr Marek, who was the first Czech-speaking member of the House of Commons, took the Conservative candidature in Wrexham after beating two other contenders in a ballot on Saturday.

Members of the general Wrexham electorate – and not just Conservative Party members – were invited to the meeting at the Ramada Hotel.

Between 30 and 40 people turned up to fire questions at Dr Marek and his two opponents, Denbighshire councillor Julian Thompson-Hill and Ranil Jayawardena from Hampshire.

Dr Marek, who was independent AM for Wrexham after falling out with Labour in 2003 until his defeat by Miss Griffiths in 2007, was victorious after the second ballot.

Yesterday he told the Leader: “I am delighted and honoured to be chosen to fight Wrexham.

“I suspect Labour will try to do their best to smear me, as they have done over the years since they threw me out, but I am not afraid of that.

“I believe I have a good name with the people of Wrexham.

“I have a track record and they know me.

“I changed to the Conservatives because the party is now very much at the centre of politics and has policies to give power to the people, such as those for elected police chiefs and health boards.

“They are not going to waste money on armies of bureaucrats where they are not necessary.”

Nicola Wilson, chairman of Wrexham Conservative Association, said: “We are very lucky to have John Marek. He is a very experienced politician who lives in Wrexham and is very popular with people in the area.”

Miss Griffiths said: “Next May, Mr Marek will have stood for four different parties in all four elections to the National Assembly for Wales since 1999.

“This fact alone tells the voters of Wrexham all they need to know about his fickle and unreliable approach to the serious issue of representing Wrexham and its people.

“Mr Marek may not be able to make his mind up about where his own political allegiances lie.

“However, the people of Wrexham made their minds up about him in 2007 and rejected him.

“Now he is to stand as a Tory candidate, there is no reason whatsoever to believe they will change their views of him.”

North Wales Liberal Democrat AM Eleanor Burnham said: “It should be a fascinating and interesting contest, which I will be watching with great interest.”

Marc Jones, Plaid Cymru spokesman in Wrexham, said: “John Marek fought the last election as a left-wing challenger to Labour.

“He’s now trying as a right-wing challenger with the Tories.

“His former supporters, who want to defend public services and jobs, will quite understandably now be looking to support a political party that is consistent in its message. They will find a warm welcome in Plaid Cymru.”

See full story in the Leader

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