A NEW Parliamentary candidate for the Labour Party in North Swindon will be chosen today.

The event, at Moredon Community Centre at 10am, is being held to find a successor for Michael Wills, the minister of state for the Ministry of Justice, who has represented North Swindon for the past 12 years.

The Adver understands the party, which could be only 16 weeks from a General Election, has shortlisted five candidates including Victor Agarwal, Chris Bain, Thomas Davidson, Andy Erlan and Sandra Parsons – the only Swindon-based candidate – from Wroughton.

Every North Swindon Labour Party member is eligible to vote during the meeting to select the candidate who will eventually slug it out with Tory candidate Justin Tomlinson, who also ran at the last election.

Yesterday, in the lead-up to last night’s reception event, during which the candidates mingled with party members, activists and councillors, Labour faithful were anticipating a big turnout.

Coun Derique Montaut, leader of Swindon Council’s opposition Labour Party, said: “This is a Labour town, and this is our seat so this vote is going to be very exciting.

“The person selected will have the full support of us all and a lot of serious effort will go into this campaign.

“I think we are going to ruffle more than a few feathers – the opinion polls are closing.”

Meanwhile Mr Tomlinson, who is currently a councillor for Abbey Meads, said he found the selection date “exceptionally late” considering the election is expected in four months.

He said: “At the moment I am fully focused on my own campaign. However, I must say that this selection seems exceptionally late.

“I know other MPs that have struggled in the past with a lot less time, considering the fact that candidates have to meet everyone and get the lay of the land before the election.”

To this Coun Montaut said the candidate would have “plenty of time” and that the Tories needed to worry more about their “own campaign”.

Mr Wills, who is also a Privy Councillor and Minister of State for Constitutional Renewal, first broke the news that he was standing down to the Adver in September.

Married with five children, the 57-year-old admitted that he didn’t feel he should serve more than three terms.

During his time in Parliament Michael Wills voted in favour of the Iraq war and against an investigation into it. He also voted for equal rights for gay people, and in favour of the hunting ban. Mr Wills won his seat at the last election with a majority of 2,571.