Teacher plans to run against Chloe Smith for Norwich North

The next general election may be almost four years off, but a teacher from Sprowston has already thrown her hat into the ring to challenge Chloe Smith for Norwich North.

Mother-of-two Diana Stephenson has pledged to run as an independent in the parliamentary seat, just as Miss Smith is promoted to the treasury.

The 57-year-old, who has worked at Rackheath Primary School and Cawston Primary School, currently works for the charity The Benjamin Foundation.

But she said she wants to run for election as an independent to show there is an alternative to party politics.

Mrs Stephenson, whose husband Richard works at the University of East Anglia, said: 'I have always been interested in politics, but not really in party politics. I was in the Social Democrats when I was younger because Shirley Williams was my hero. She was always gentle and respectful and I think she was the best prime minister we never had.

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'But I don't believe in party politics any more and I think I can bring out the votes of people who otherwise would not vote.

'I've been in School Lane in Sprowston for 25 years and people around here know what I am all about. My kids have gone to local schools and I have taught in them.

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'I have a certificate in education from Homerton College and I'm planning to do a distance learning MSc in sustainable economics and holistic science.'

She said she planned to give Miss Smith a run for her money and was determined not to lose the �500 deposit she will have to put down to run.

She said: 'I know I'm not going to win it, but I am going for 10pc of the vote, and if I get that it will have made a statement.

'Chloe Smith has been a whip and she will always vote with the government, so how can she ever really represent me?

'It was fine when Ian Gibson was there, because he just did his stuff regardless of what the government wanted him to do.He was a good man, but they did the dirty on him, and where do we go now? We couldn't vote for the Labour chap who was parachuted in last time, I could never vote Tory and the Lib Dems and the Greens won't win in this constituency, so I want to present another option.'

Mrs Stephenson added she intended to knock on doors the length and breadth of the constituency to drum up support and said: 'If I am going to do this, I will do it properly.'

Do you have a politics story? Call Evening News reporter Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email dan.grimmer@archant.co.uk

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