“If I was ever to go back to parliament it was Swindon or nothing. South Swindon or nothing, actually.”

Former shadow Health Secretary and, until earlier this year, deputy Mayor of London, Heidi Alexander is serious about her attempt to win Sir Robert Buckland’s constituency at the next election.

She has only just been adopted by the constituency party as its candidate – but she has been spending most of her time in the town where she was born and grew up.

She said: “I’ve been camping put in my parents’ house for a few months, but I’m very excited because we’ve just had an offer on a house in Old Town accepted.”

Ms Alexander, 47 was MP for Lewisham East in south east London for eight years until giving up the job in 2018 to become one of London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s deputies. She said the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns played a major role in making her want to come back to Swindon.

She said: “It makes you reassess – and when you can’t see your family for months, you realise what’s really important.

“I’ve always been proud of being from Swindon. When I was in Lewisham I’d be asked whether I supported Millwall or Charlton and I’d always say Swindon Town.”

Now, gearing  up for what might be a two-and-a-half year ‘phoney war’ before an election is called (although, who knows?) Ms Alexander has a five-part pitch to the people of Swindon.

“My first priority is sorting the cost-of-living crisis," she said. "If I’m elected as MP for South Swindon it’s quite likely we’d have a Labour government, and that will offer real support to people. I know from knocking on doors on Freshbrook, Park North, Liden, rising costs are having an impact on people across the social spectrum.”

Asked to specify what “real support” looks like Ms Alexander said: “We’d reduce VAT on energy bills and put a windfall tax on oil and gas producers. The government it had to be dragged, reluctantly to it, and it has given billions in tax breaks to energy producers.

“We’d use it to give real help to people, especially as we’re likely to see another price hike in the Autumn.”

The second plank in Ms Alexander’s platform is jobs and investment. She said: “We need to attract better quality jobs. Good jobs bring security to people. The Honda plant closing lost 3,000 high quality, well-paid skilled jobs and a lot of the jobs coming to the town are in things like the distribution sector; they have zero hours contract and there’s a lot of insecurity.”

She referred to the town’s industrial history when discussing its future, adding: “There’s an opportunity for Swindon. It was at the heart of the growth of the railways, crucial to the industrial revolution.

“We need to be at the heart of the transition to net zero, at the heart of the tech sector.

“I’d want to work with a Labour council here and a Labour government to bring more investment for better jobs for the future.”

But what if South Swindon elects her, but the council, the government and remain Conservative - and North Swindon again elects Tory Justin Tomlinson?

“I think I’m respected by Conservatives as a person of integrity, and as a pragmatist," she said. "I hope whatever the political persuasion, we could all work together for the benefit of Swindon.”

Town centre regeneration and better workforce planning for the NHS are other significant promises.

Ms Alexander said: “It’s something I was talking about when I was shadow health secretary in  2015-16. And we’re seeing the results of that failure now.”

And more affordable housing, specifically council housing is something Ms Alexander would be pressing for as a new MP for South Swindon.

She said: “House prices keep going up and wages haven’t kept pace. A decent home is absolutely fundamental to people, to allow them to progress. We haven’t been building the necessary number of genuinely affordable homes, by which I mean council housing. That’s a real priority.”

And finally, does the former Churchfields School (now Lawn Manor Academy) pupil think she can win? “I wouldn’t be uprooting my life, moving back to Swindon permanently, If I didn’t think I could.

“It’s the only place I’d want to be an MP for, now," she said. "I’ve always thought of it as home, and I want to represent its people.”