Lancashire comedian Tez Ilyas in general election party plea to Blackburn

Blackburn comedian Tez Ilyas has called on the ‘independent’ candidates in the general election to unite behind just one to ‘kick the Labour Party out of our town’. He has created a social media post aimed at Workers Party of Britain hopeful Craig Murray and his rival Adnan Hussain who is backed by the 4BwD group of independent councillors who quit Labour over Gaza.

In it Mr Ilyas says they and fellow independent Natasha Shah must sink their differences and choose just one to try and unseat defending Labour MP Kate Hollern who had a majority of 18,304 in 2019. Praising former Tory Cllr Tiger Patel for standing aside for Mr Murray, he says two of the three remaining ‘independent’ candidates must do the same to avoid splitting the vote against her.

Mr Ilyas’s Facebook post says: “This is a message to the remaining Independent candidates in Blackburn and their supporters. Please for the sake of unity, for the sake of the cause which is to kick the Labour Party out of our town, one of you needs to step down.

“I applaud Tiger Patel for doing the right thing. So we need one of you two to do the right thing and step down.

“Otherwise it’s going to split the vote and the Labour Party are going to win. It’s nigh on impossible, to unseat a Member of Parliament from a main party anyway.

“But with one candidate we can unite behind it would be possible. With two, it’s impossible. You might as well vote for the Green Party. So please, for the sake of unity, compromise and stand down.”

Mr Ilyas told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I did count Craig Murray as an independent.

“If your preference is for a non-Labour winner in Blackburn who is not Tory or Reform, it seems like it’s going to be between one of the Independent candidates and Craig Murray.

“Two of three should step down and let the other one have the field.”

Mr Murray said: “The door remains open for young Adnan to step down and join our team alongside Tiger, who has shown the way.

“Despite being plainly the more qualified candidate I swallowed my pride and agreed to the coin toss proposal, which was haughtily rejected.

“Blackburn will be won this year with 16,000 votes. So I believe I will win in any event. But unity would be better.”

Mr Hussain’s campaign manager Cllr Mustafa Desai said: “Craig Murray is not an independent he is with the Workers Party just like the other candidates that are affiliated to their respective political parties. Why is Tez only asking the Independents to stand down?”

Natasha Shah said: “I am going to stay . I feel I stand for the community that Adnan and Craig do not stand for . I am being forced to step down by Craig’s and Tiger’s supporters and any one who wants to support me is being bullied.”

Mrs Hollern declined to comment on Mr Ilyas’s post.

Ms Morgan said: “I appreciate and applaud Tez’s endorsement of The Green Party and, as he says, it makes sense to vote for me.”

Reform UK’s Tommy Temperley said: “It is a shame the Independent party of Blackburn were not more organised on selecting their candidate to just one to represent them. The three remaining Independents will split the vote to Labours advantage.”

The full list of candidates on the ballot paper is: Kate Hollern – Labour Party; Adnan Hussain – Independent; Jamie McGowan – Conservative Party; Denise Morgan – Green Party; Craig Murray – Workers Party of Britain; Altaf ‘Tiger’ Patel – Independent; Natasha Shah – Independent; Tommy Temperley – Reform UK; Adam Waller-Slack – Liberal Democrats.