Blur drummer Dave Rowntree selected as Labour candidate

Dave Rowntree, the drummer for Blur, has been selected as a Labour candidate at the next general election.

Rowntree will stand for the Conservative-held Mid Sussex seat, hoping to turn it red for the first time.

The constituency, covering Burgess Hill, East Grinstead, Haywards Heath and the Mid Sussex villages, is currently represented by Mims Davies.

Rowntree told his 60,000 followers on X on Wednesday evening: "I'm absolutely thrilled to have been selected as the Labour candidate for Mid Sussex! Now the work begins."

In a statement, the musician-turned-politician added: "I'm delighted to have the opportunity to become Labour first Mid Sussex MP.

"Residents have their best chance in a generation to make their vote count and return a Labour MP to parliament.

"The Tories have run out of ideas, and the Lib Dems have run out of steam.

"I'm running for parliament to provide the energy and vision the area so desperately needs."

The Mid Sussex seat was previously held by Sir Winston Churchill's grandson, Sir Nicholas Soames, from May 1997 until November 2019.

It is currently unclear whether Rowntree - who released his debut album, Radio Songs, in January last year - will remain in Blur if elected.

He will stand in the upcoming general election alongside fellow musician Tom Gray, of the rock band Gomez, who was selected as the Labour candidate for the Brighton Pavilion constituency.

Rowntree revealed Blur's excitement ahead of their triumphant "bucket list" Wembley Stadium comeback in July last year.

He was reunited with bandmates Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon and Alex James for their first headline show since 2015.

The Britpop legends went on to hit number one with their ninth album, The Ballad of Darren, last summer.

'Political turning point'

Colchester-born Rowntree's first job was working for the city's borough council as a computer programmer, before Blur was signed by record label EMI in 1989.

He later went on to work at a friend's east London law firm, "helping those at the bottom of the heap", which he described as a "political turning point".

While standing as Labour's parliamentary candidate for the Cities of London & Westminster in the 2010 general election - a bid which proved to be unsuccessful - Rowntree revealed his personal problems with drugs, alcohol and homelessness and said he was "determined to try and do something" to help people living in extreme poverty.

Rowntree won over voters in Norfolk after he was elected as a Labour County Councillor serving the University ward in May 2017.

After much "soul-searching", he announced he would not seek re-election in 2021, in the wake of the COVID pandemic.

Rowntree cited being unable to give residents the "hands-on care they deserve", adding that he needed to shield to protect a vulnerable family member, according to reports.

In 2018, he joined music stars including Annie Lennox, Paloma Faith, Jamie Cullum and Pink Floyd drummer and co-founder, Nick Mason, to sign a letter demanding an alternative to Brexit, which they branded a "significant threat to the UK's music industry".

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The Mid Sussex Labour group posted on X: "We think Dave will be an excellent and very successful candidate."

In a statement, the group added: "Our constituency chair, Pam Haigh, is delighted to announce Dave Rowntree as our parliamentary candidate for General Election 24.

"Dave is a long-term party member who has served in many party roles including PPC [Prospective Parliamentary Candidate] and County Councillor.

"We look forward to working with him to get him elected as Mid Sussex's first Labour MP."

Prior to his announcement on X, Rowntree used the platform to take aim at Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's spring budget announcement in the Commons, describing it as a "waste of an hour".

The drummer wrote: "Tiny policy announcements. Fiddling with the tax system. Bogus productivity savings rather than proper funding. AI fixing all problems."