Newly announced Stoke-on-Trent Central Conservative Party candidate Liam Ascough has described Stoke-on-Trent’s education system as “appalling”.
The 35-year-old Conservative councillor for Southgate at Crawley Borough Council, has called on voters to make a stand.
The incumbent Tristram Hunt is the current Shadow Secretary of State for Education, and Stoke’s poor education standing was a sticking point for Mr Ascough.
“Education in Stoke-on-Trent is appalling, it’s 147th out of 151 local authorities and that’s with my opponent the Shadow Secretary of State for Education being the Member of Parliament here.
“That’s absolutely abysmal, there are only three schools that with pupils receiving over 5 A-C potential grades in Stoke-on-Trent, the average is 37 per cent, that’s dreadful.”
Mr Ascough currently works as a flight attendant for Virgin Atlantic and made his start in politics in 2012, when elected to Crawley Borough Council.
“I’ve always been interested in politics, I joined the party when I was 14 and so I’ve always been involved in the party, I’ve always been campaigning and different things like that.”
He admitted his choice to go into politics now was that he felt he needed life experience and to avoid going into a ‘political bubble.’
“When I was at University, I studied Archeology and History at Southampton, I wanted to go into politics, but I felt I need to get a proper job, not saying politics isn’t a proper job but you need to be able to go out into the work place and do a real job, where I’ve done 16 hour shifts before.
“It’s a great experience because I get to hear what goes on in the real world, whereas if you go into politics straight away you go into a political bubble and I didn’t want that.”
Stoke-on-Trent’s three constituencies have all been Labour strongholds since the 1950s and Marshall-Ascough admitted it would be hard work to overturn that.
“I think it’s hard work and I’m not adverse to hard work, where I am a councillor for Crawley, that was a Labour control seat and a Labour controlled council for 36 years and we took control and made a massive difference for the people of Crawley.
“We brought massive benefits and I think we can do that here by going out onto the street and meeting the people of Stoke-on-Trent and showing what we can do for them.”
The UK Independence Party have gained a lot of nationwide popularity recently, with Douglas Carswell becoming their first elected MP in October’s by-election in Clacton.
Mr Ascough said voters need to think about more than just immigration when casting their vote.
“The problem with UKIP is their rise in popularity is it’s based on just one issue, immigration. Don’t get me wrong its hugely important but there are more issues to look at.
“There are so many more issues to look at, the economy, the deficit, there’s education, transport, infrastructure. There are so many more things we need to look at and just voting on one sole issue, to me, is frightening.
“It shouldn’t be a popularity contest, it’s not the X-Factor, you don’t just vote once and you hear one or two singles from someone and never again, this is actually serious, this election next year is a chance for us to change this country for a generation or more and if we don’t take this seriously, then we’re in for trouble.”
He said he was looking forward to spending more time in the city.
“Stoke-on-Trent is a city with a lot to give, it’s the centre point of the region up here, it’s a great city, with six fantastic towns in it, there’s so many opportunities here and it’s crying out for change.
“We’ve had a Labour control forever practically who’ve done absolutely nothing and it’s time for a Conservative candidate to make a stand and make a stand for the people of Stoke-on-Trent.”
(Additional reporting by Monica Rimmer)