11:00pm Wednesday 15th January 2014
By Bill Jacobs
BLACKBURN’S Labour candidate at next year’s general election will be a woman.
The party’s national executive yesterday chose an all-female shortlist for the seat held by Jack Straw with a majority of 9,856 at the 2010 general election.
It makes Blackburn with Darwen council leader Kate Hollern early favourite to win Labour’s nomination for the May vote.
However, it’s bad news for her council colleague and Mr Straw’s constituency secretary Damian Talbot, plus Burnley-born former Dewsbury MP Shahid Malik.
Both men had expressed an interest in fighting the seat, held by Labour for more than 60 years.
The only other female in the frame so far is Hyndburn Council deputy leader Clare Pritchard.
Coun Hollern said: “I would rather have had an open shortlist but I understand the executive’s decision. I am going to consider whether to put my name forward over the next couple of days.”
Mr Straw said: “I think it is the right decision. If we want a general policy of more women MPs we have to have particular policies as well.
“I shall campaign for whoever wins the nomination and will be there to offer them advice.”
A North West Labour Party spokesman said: “Labour is working to increase the diversity and representativeness of Parliament. The National Executive Committee resolved Blackburn would be an all-women shortlist.”
Labour party secretary Phil Riley said: “I look forward to a strong list of female candidates.”
Coun Talbot said: “I am a little disappointed but will work for whoever is chosen.”
The candidates will be whittled down to a shortlist for a vote of all party members in March.
Burnley council leader Julie Cooper was chosen as Labour candidate for the town. Mr Straw’s son Will was chosen for Rossendale and Darwen, and Nelson county councillor Azhar Ali for Pendle. Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle and Hyndburn MP Graham Jones will stand again next year. Labour has yet to start selection in Ribble Valley.
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