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Conservative candidate asks voters not to be distracted by sleaze scandal

The Conservative London Assembly candidate for Merton & Wandsworth has said voters should focus on who will be the best candidate for their area rather than sleaze at Downing Street today.

Louise Calland, 34, a government affairs manager at pharmaceutical company Novartis, grew up in Surrey but has held councillor roles in Battersea and Lambeth and now lives in Earlsfield.

Following an interview with Conservative candidate Hannah Ginnett last week, who said she did not “have her fingers in the till”, Calland responded to questions about lobbying, ‘cash for curtains’, and allegations that Boris Johnson said he would rather ‘let the bodies pile high’ than enforce another lockdown.

She said: “It all seems a bit political, like they’re trying to deflect.

“These are things that we shouldn’t be focusing on at this particular time. Talking about these sort of things damages people’s perceptions of politicians of every colour.”

She added that if there was something wrong there would be consequences, but during local elections it was better to focus on how a politician can best represent the needs of their constituency.

“I’m not embarrassed to be a Conservative at all” she said.

During a hustings debate held at Riverside Radio on Tuesday, she defended the Government’s record on coronavirus, adding today she was not envious of those in power.

“There were some really horrible decisions that had to be taken” she said.

Calland believes that her family roots in the area make her the best candidate for representing Merton & Wandsworth, as well as her experiences as a councillor.

She said that working as a councillor in opposition, and in power, had given her an insight into working at City Hall if elected.

Her father grew up in Wandsworth, after her grandfather escaped pogroms in Russia and met her grandmother, a pearl stringer from Soho, and her maternal grandfather also ran a Jewish boxing club in Wimbledon.

Despite fighting the election, she said: “I’m probably a pretty poor boxer.”

Calland also reflected on the pandemic, saying she had learned she was pregnant during the first week of lockdown in March last year and gave birth to a boy in November.

When asked if having a child had changed her perception of London’s knife crime epidemic, she said it had become slightly more personal, but it did not mean someone without kids could not feel the same.

Calland hopes to bring her background in public health policy to the forefront of her political ambitions, saying that the best way to iron out inequalities and social mobility issues would be to focus on public health.

Reflecting on Shaun Bailey’s pledge to introduce electric bikes to London’s suburbs she said there was an argument for fining dangerous cyclists, but that implementing it was wishful thinking.

She wants to see more people cycling but “it doesn’t involve running red lights and cycling on pavements”.

“It’s going to have to be carrot rather than stick,” she added.

The London Assembly elections will be held on 6 May.

Featured Image screenshot from Riverside Radio livestream

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