Ex-Sunderland Tory leader gunning to become South Shields MP

South Shields Conservative Party candidate Robert Oliver
South Shields Conservative Party candidate Robert Oliver
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A FORMER Sunderland Tory leader is gunning to become an MP.

Ex-Sunderland councillor Robert Oliver has been selected to stand for the Conservatives up the road in South Shields.

The former St Chad’s councillor served as leader of Sunderland Conservatives until 2014, when he stood down from the council.

Now the 43-year-old teacher is hoping to climb onto a bigger political stage as he takes on sitting MP Emma Lewell-Buck in the constituency formerly represented by ex-foreign secretary David Miliband.

“The Conservatives can get a good result if we can get across how we are turning the economy around, that people are getting back into work and off welfare, that school standards are improving and there is a lot more money being put into devolved powers and transport in the North East.”

Mr Oliver said he would be seeking townsfolk’s views on the South Shields 365 masterplan to transform the town over the next decade.

He said: “Coming from Sunderland I know all about town centres not doing very well.”

Mr Oliver stood as Tory Parliamentary candidate for Sunderland South in 2005 and for Houghton and Sunderland South in 2010.

South Shields is as Tory Parliamentary candidate in Sunderland South in both 2005 and 2010.

The town is the only constituency since the Great Reform Act of 1832 never to have had a Tory MP.

At the 2013 by-election, Ukip’s Richard Elvin, himself from Wearside, pushed the Tories into third place, polling almost 25 per cent of the vote.

However, Mr Oliver, 43, thinks Ukip’s popularity has peaked and is predicting a resurgence of Conservative support.

He said he felt the Labour had been “complacent” in South Shields, and attacked his rival Ms Lewell-Buck over her claims made in Parliament about back garden burials.

“I think the comments by the local MP on funerals, and the allegations that people were burying relatives in the back garden, has damaged the party’s credibility an awful lot,” she said.