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Friday, 28 November 2014

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Former Newcastle United owner Sir John Hall backs Carlisle MP

Former Newcastle United owner Sir John Hall is backing the re-election campaign of Carlisle’s Conservative MP John Stevenson.

John Stevenson photo
Carlisle MP John Stevenson, right, with Sir John Hall

Sir John addressed 80 invited business people at an event at Fantails Restaurant, Wetheral, organised by Mr Stevenson.

He told the News & Star: “Throughout my life the Labour Party has made a mess of the economy and the Conservatives have had to sort it out.

“I’ve lived through three recessions. We are definitely in recovery now, without a doubt, especially manufacturing.

“The housing market is picking up and that benefits the whole economy.

“Five years ago no-one was investing. They weren’t prepared to risk their cash. Now they are investing and creating jobs.”

Born into a Northumberland mining family, Sir John, 80, says he was initially a “strong socialist” but became disillusioned with Labour after he went into business. He switched to the Conservatives when Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister in 1979.

He said: “I found her inspirational, someone I could follow.

“I’m not a Conservative Party member but I am a supporter. I believe in the principle of free enterprise but it has to be with social responsibility.”

Sir John made his money from property development – he was responsible for the MetroCentre at Gateshead – and was knighted in 1991 for his part in the north east’s regeneration.

He shot to prominence as chairman of Newcastle United from 1992 to 1997, the most successful period in the club’s recent history.

He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2010 but says the disease hasbeen contained by treatment at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.

Sir John favours strong links between Cumbria and the North East and believes the region needs a new body to fight its corner.

He added: “It’s necessary for businesses to come together as a powerful group. Although things are improving, they’re not improving fast enough. There are still a lot of people without jobs.”

Mr Stevenson was pleased to have Sir John’s endorsement. He said: “He’s a big personality, well known in Cumbria, and we’re delighted he came. This was an opportunity for him to meet local business people.”

City councillor Lee Sheriff has already been selected to contest Carlisle for Labour at the next election. The contest between Mr Stevenson and her is expected to be close-run.

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