"Oh, I'm going to win."

Will Stone has no doubt that whenever the next general election should fall, he will be the one victorious, returned as North Swindon's MP.

It’s a bold call – and if he made it even a year ago it might have been seen as a foolhardy one – the Conservative MP Justin Tomlinson was re-elected in December 2019 with an enormous 59 per cent of the vote, and of the four general elections he has fought since 2010 has only failed to break the 50 per cent mark once.

Things have changed, and Labour have a big lead nationally in opinion polls and are throwing plenty of resources at Swindon.

But Coun Stone, the Labour borough councillor for Rodbourne Cheney who is now his party's candidate for North Swindon, says he’s not confident because he’s being lifted by the rising national tide for Labour, but because of the work he’s already putting in.

“My work rate is second to none, I’m going out for hours every week, I’m speaking to people.

“North Swindon is a top five battleground seat for Labour and I’m learning a lot from Heidi Alexander in South Swindon and I’m going to win North Swindon for Labour.”

Describing himself as a pragmatist, Coun Stone even has praise for his opponent: “Justin Tomlinson is a really good campaigner and I have a lot of respect for him. And though the national picture is going my way, I’m concentrating on what we need to do in Swindon.”

If he does manage to overturn what was a Conservative safe seat in 2019, that would be a very rapid rise for the 32-year-old who only became a borough councillor in 2022, a parish councillor for Pinehurst in 2021, and someone who says he was very much not into politics as a younger man.

Brought up in Pinehurst, Coun Stone went to Headlands School, now Swindon Academy. Leaving school at 16 he worked in a factory until joining the army aged 21.

He said: ”I was in the 1st Battalion of The Rifles and did that for 5 years. When I came out of the army I moved back to Swindon and set up my own business teaching Brazilian jiu-jitsu.”

And it was running that business, and litter, which was Coun Stoner’s route into politics, and which might see him in the House of Commons.

“There was a lot of fly-tipping near my businesses on Gorse Hill, so I organised litter picks, and after a while, local councillors would come along and I got to know them and got interested in what they had to say and what they were doing.

“And I found the more I could do, the more I wanted to do. As a Central Swindon North parish councillor you can get things done, and now as a borough councillor you can get even more done. Doors open and you are able to speak to even more people.

“As an MP, I’ll be able to do even more, I’m sure.”

But were he to be elected, Coun Stone is going to start as a backbench MP whatever the complexion of the government after the next election.

He said: “That’s all I want to be. I just want to be an effective MP for North Swindon and get things done and make things better here.

“My two main priorities are getting a university in Swindon and developing low-carbon industry.

“A University of Swindon would be amazing- but it might be that we start with a Swindon Business Institute, perhaps, as part of UWE or Reading or even Greenwich, say.

“And I want Swindon to be a centre for manufacturing for green energy, we are ideally suited in location here, and we have the skilled workforce.

"I want Swindon to be manufacturing wind turbines and solar panels and the technology to produce green energy. We want high-skilled and well-paid jobs here.

“And I’ll work with anyone of whatever party to make that happen. I’m not a political theorist – getting the job done is much more important than ideology.”