A FORMER contender to become the Labour Party’s candidate for a marginal constituency has branded his party’s decision only to allow women to stand “a disgrace.”

Terry Murphy, a former Stockton borough councillor and Labour activist for 30 years, had hoped to be considered as Labour candidate for Stockton South.

Current Conservative MP, James Wharton, won the seat by just 332 in the 2010 General Election and it is one of the most marginal in the country.

Mr Murphy, who lives in the constituency, said it wasn’t fair that Stockton South be all-women again because it also female-only last time a new candidate was chosen. He added the Labour candidate for nearby Redcar, Anna Turley, was also chosen from an all-women list and the north was forced to have a disproportionate number of all-women short-lists.

Mr Murphy said: “I don’t see why we have to have all-women short-lists every time in Stockton. I think we should have a shortlist open to men and women and I can see the argument to have a list made up of 50 per cent women and 50 per cent men. It seems the fact I have testicles has ended the modest hopes I had. This is a disgraceful and unjustified decision by my party.”

A Labour North spokesman said: “Stockton South Labour Party has a proud history of supporting and encouraging women in Parliament and many members are keen to continue that.

“The NEC has decided that the selection in Stockton South will be carried out from an all women shortlist. Whilst we appreciate this may be a disappointment by some who hoped to be involved in the selection contest the local party is keen to get the process started as soon as possible to ensure the local Tory MP is held to account for the damage his government is doing to the constituency.”