'I can win Alan Johnson's west Hull seat,' says Liberal Democrat Claire Thomas
IT IS one of the toughest tasks facing any aspiring MP.
But Liberal Democrat candidate Claire Thomas is confident she can oust big hitter Alan Johnson at the next election.
The Hull City councillor has been announced as the party's prospective parliamentary candidate for Hull West and Hessle.
But she has a job on her hands to overthrow Mr Johnson, who has held the constituency since 1997.
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Cllr Thomas will need to swing more than 5,000 votes to gain a victory.
But she is confident she can gain the seat and believes a well-known name is not necessarily a good thing.
"Being a local councillor in the area, this is just an extension of what I have been doing," said Cllr Thomas.
"It's about sticking up for the local area and fighting on local issues.
"I do think I have a chance of winning and it's not about being a big hitter.
"We have had Labour MPs in Hull for a long time but it's about someone who will fight for Hull and Hessle.
"You can have a high-flying big name but you need to decide whether they are interested in the area they represent or just the politics.
"The important thing is to have somebody who will stand up for the people in this area.
"I have been frustrated by people bringing the area down and we need to promote Hull and the surrounding area.
"I don't see myself as a politician's politician, it's about the people, not the politics."
Cllr Thomas insists her parliamentary campaign won't affect her ability as a councillor.
She said: "At the moment, I am a full-time councillor so I have time to campaign for the General Election and carry on my role as a councillor.
"I need to be out there all the time speaking to people, that is very important."
While believing local issues are at the centre of her campaign, Cllr Thomas admits national issues and her party's performance are integral.
She said: "National views are important and I am a Lib Dem candidate who represents the views of the party.
"We have had to deal with some difficult headlines recently but we won in Eastleigh.
"The next General Election will be interesting and unpredictable.
"People may think we have suffered by being in Government but you have to be in order to deliver your manifesto promises.
"But I will speak my mind and if I disagree with a policy I will say so. It is about what's right for the area I represent, not the Lib Dem party."
Cllr Thomas insists she is no career politician.
She said: "I never had any plans to become an MP but I have always enjoyed being able to influence things and help people.
"The campaigning has already started for me and I have been knocking on doors."
Cllr Thomas, 38, is from Devon originally but came to Hull ten years ago to study international politics at university.
She has been a councillor for four years and, in 2012, overturned Labour's 2011 majority of 450 in Hull's Pickering Ward to achieve one of the best Lib Dem results against Labour anywhere in the country.
Claire has previously worked in the manufacturing sector for her family's business and has taught at the University of Hull.
She has volunteered in her local community as a trustee for a local charity that supports vulnerable women.