• Friday, June 21, 2024

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Asian GP becomes Newcastle’s first Tory winner in 32 years

Anand came to the UK from India in 1978 and originally worked in Barrow-in-Furness in its hospital’s orthopaedics department

Dr Anand celebrates becoming the first Tory to be elected in Newcastle Upon Tyne in 32 years. (Photo: NCJ Media/LDRS)

By: Daniel Holland

RETIRED GP Doc Anand made history this month as he claimed the Tories’ first election victory in the city since 1992, defeating the Liberal Democrats to win a seat in Gosforth.

Breaking their 32-year duck in Newcastle was a rare election night highlight for the Tories, as Rishi Sunak’s party suffered heavy losses across the country.

Anand was congratulated personally by the prime minister during a brief meeting and believes he has now made the Tories a “recognised brand” in a city where they have struggled for so long.

Describing himself in a interview with the Local Democracy Reporting Service as a “tremendous admirer” of Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen, another Tory who bucked the national trend on May 2, the 77-year-old reflected on how he had focused his campaign on his personal brand and somewhat distanced himself from the national Tory party image.

He is a well-known and colourful figure in Gosforth, having practised at the Elmfield GP surgery for many years and been a vocal figure in the community.

Anand came to the UK from India in 1978 and originally worked in Barrow-in-Furness in its hospital’s orthopaedics department and later moved to Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, before deciding that he wanted to move into general practice in the early 1980s.

He hit the headlines around 20 years ago when his registration was suspended for four weeks, after being found guilty of serious misconduct when he provided a false sick note for an undercover journalist from the Sunday Times in 2003 when there was deemed no reasonable basis to do so.

A General Medical Council panel heard in March 2006 how the reporter had admitted she was not ill when she visited the clinic but was still provided with a sick note, with the GP arguing at the time that he suspected that she might have been keeping other problems from him.

Anand, who was also known as an advocate of acupuncture and homeopathy, subsequently returned to work and retired in 2012.

He legally changed his name by deed poll from Anandavardhan Anand to Doc Anand in 2021.

Anand, who has also been a presenter on local Asian radio network Spice FM and chairs the Indian Association North East, came late to politics – only joining the Tory Party in 2019 and being encouraged to stand in Gosforth for the first time in 2021.

Having slightly increased his vote tally year-on-year, he was elected this month at the fourth attempt – with a 3 per cent margin of victory over Lib Dem candidate Tahir Siddique.

The father-of-three said: “The Newcastle Tory party is now a recognised brand again. And democracy is helped too – the turnout in Gosforth was 54 per cent [compared to 37 per cent city-wide].

“Whether they love me or hate me, people don’t ignore me. I think it has made local politics exciting and interesting here, people want to take part and vote.

“We have managed to go against the national picture here and I think we have proved that it doesn’t matter who you are or which party you stand firm as long as you care about the community and work hard that will be recognised.”

A somewhat eccentric campaigner who has had an active social media presence, Anand donned a traffic cone costume in 2022 as he campaigned against the bollards that lined Gosforth High Street at the time.

He also came under fire lately for appearing to joke in a Facebook video that he could use his position as a councillor to overturn a parking fine if he won election.

But Anand told the LDRS that he had been “straight to work” in his new post and vowed to continue to focus on familiar campaign issues like fixing potholes and resolving the future of the high street.

He added: “As an outsider it is difficult to get things done, but I hope I can build more relationships now between the council and the local community.”

While he will be nearing his 80th birthday by the time his term runs out at the council’s next set of elections, where every seat in the city will be up for grabs after boundary changes that will come into force in 2026, but says he will stand again “as long as Gosforth needs me”.

Expressing hope that his party will not have to wait another 32 years for another success in Newcastle, Anand added: “Now that we have smashed down the yellow wall in Gosforth we are going to go campaigning across the city and we will leave no stone unturned until we have elected another councillor.”

(Local Democracy Reporting Service)

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