A journalist and activist has declared that she will challenge a Newcastle MP at the next general election.

Yvonne Ridley has announced that she plans to run as an independent candidate against Labour’s Chi Onwurah in the new Newcastle Central and West constituency.

Stanley-born Ms Ridley told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) she was running to take a stand in support of Palestine and to “put Newcastle back on the map for innovation, inspiration, and education”.

Having worked in Darlington for The Northern Echo, and in Newcastle for The Journal and the Sunday Sun, Ms Ridley made international headlines while working for the Sunday Express in 2001 when she was captured and held for 11 days by the Taliban after crossing into Afghanistan undercover.

The 65-year-old later converted to Islam and has become a prominent Muslim activist and anti-war campaigner.

She previously stood for election for George Galloway’s Respect Party several times between 2004 and 2012.

Ms Ridley, who lives near the Scottish border, was also a member of the Scottish National Party before joining Alex Salmond’s Alba, where she has recently been embroiled in a row over the definition of trans women. 

She confirmed to the LDRS that she will not stand in Newcastle under the Alba banner, nor for the Workers Party of Britain which Mr Galloway leads and won the recent Rochdale by-election for.

However, she is scheduled to appear with Mr Galloway in an event at Newcastle’s Central Mosque next week.

Ms Ridley publicly announced her intention to stand at the next general election, which is expected to be held later this year, at an event at Newcastle Civic Centre on Sunday, where she criticised Ms Onwurah for abstaining on a Gaza ceasefire motion in Parliament last year.

She told the LDRS: “It is shameful that the big success story in Newcastle is the growth of its foodbanks. Poverty has no place on the banks of the Tyne or anywhere else in Newcastle Central and West constituency. Labour under Sir Keir Starmer is not the answer so let’s cut free from traditional two-party party politics and choose differently.”

Most read:

Get more from The Northern Echo with a Premium Plus digital subscription from as little as only £1.50 a week. Click here

The Northern Echo:

Ms Ridley added: “The truth is we are in decline because we have been abandoned by the Tories in Westminster and Labour is just a pale imitation of the Conservatives.

“We’ve marched, protested, petitioned, and still they won’t listen to our voices. That is not democracy. Common sense and humanity demand a ceasefire and an end to the killing but the politicians aren’t listening.”

Ms Onwurah has been the Labour MP for Newcastle Central since 2010. Following boundary changes that will come into force at the next election, she is due to contest the new Newcastle Central and West seat.