Election Interview: Alex Sobel, Labour candidate for Leeds North West
In the run up to December's General Election, our election correspondent Joshua Sandiford will be creating profiles of key marginal constituencies around the country, combining the key statistics with interviews with the major candidates. In this article, Joshua interviews Alex Sobel, Labour candidate for Leeds North West.
This constituency, like Sheffield Hallam, has a large student population and is described by Sobel as one of the most diverse in the country.
With a relatively slim majority of just over 4,000, Sobel is hoping that his recognisable face and local achievements will help him hold on to the constituency.
He told The Parliamentary Review he hopes voters will give him another five years to finish the projects he has started.
How's the campaign going? What are people saying to you on the doorstep?
It's been a good start to the campaign and we've had more volunteers than ever before. The one thing on the doorstep is that maybe voters are more undecided then they have been in previous elections. Sometimes, people know who they won't vote for but they don't know who they will vote for.
Voters are finding it very difficult to make their decision in this election. And people are thinking about a range of issues, including Brexit, the NHS, care, the climate, education, childcare and Brexit. It's more difficult to read than previous elections.
But locally, people know who I am, they are aware of my record and that helps me. People recognise that I have got a proven record and are quite warm and willing to chat with me about not just about national policies but also things that are happening in the constituency.
Sometimes, people know who they won't vote for but they don't know who they will vote for.
What can you point to that you have done so far that should make voters want to back you again at this election?
We have a Clean Air Zone which is being implemented and the government were only going to give a small amount of money to Leeds. I campaigned and intervened on the environmental audit committee and the council then got 29 million pounds, which is much more than the government were initially prepared to give Leeds.
That money is going to fund new electric vehicle charging points, retrofitting of taxis and other measures which will help clean air in the city.
I managed to save a local fire station which was earmarked for closure for a long time and now it is secured. We also had an issue with a roundabout in Lawnswood and I persuaded the council to look at the issue again.
We've managed to secure new bus routes and we're doing quite a lot of things around local issues. Without the intervention of an MP, these things wouldn't have happened. Two years isn't a long time. You can't create big infrastructure projects in two years so I feel that the things I have done are the sort of things that a good MP would have managed in that time scale.
Without the intervention of an MP, these things wouldn't have happened
When you are talking to people, are people bringing up more local issues or more national issues?
It's a definite mix, and sometimes people will bring up both in the same conversation.
We live in divisive times where Brexit dominates and people feel disenchanted with Westminster, how do you think your constituents feel right now?
People are fed up because the EU referendum was nearly three and a half years ago and whether you are a Leaver or Remainer you feel like it's unfinished business. Feelings are stronger with Leavers than with Remainers but however you voted or however you feel now, you want some sort of conclusion to it. There is a feeling of disenchantment.
I have tried to work cross-party to get a resolution but it's been too difficult in parliament to do that because of the many different forms Brexit could take.
People are fed up because the EU referendum was nearly three and a half years ago and whether you are a Leaver or Remainer you feel like it's unfinished business.
What is your favourite thing about your constituency?
Diversity, it's the most diverse constituency in the UK. We've got inner-city areas in Hyde Park and then we've got suburban areas with very mixed communities.
Then we've got farm-land, you see so many sheep when you got around the constituency, and then we've got traditional old market towns like Otley and Yeadon. I couldn't name another constituency which is as varied. It has everything you could imagine apart from the seaside, if we get a seaside then this is it, we've got the lot.
I couldn't name another constituency which is as varied.
And finally, what is your message to the people of Leeds North West?
I'd say that although it is a very difficult time politically, look at my track record both in parliament and delivering things for the constituency.
We need change nationally but I think people should stick with me locally, because two years isn't very long and I would like at least another five years in parliament to finish all the different projects and things that I have started to do.