Labour has picked Rochdale councillor Elsie Blundell to fight the fallen "red wall" seat of Heywood and Middleton at the next general election.

Cllr Blundell, who represents Balderstone and Kirkholt, was confirmed as the party’s parliamentary candidate following a hustings and a vote of local members.

She defeated fellow Rochdale councillors Liam O’Rourke and Iram Faisal, as well as Cllr Azhar Ali, leader of Lancashire County Council’s Labour group.

It means she will be tasked with wresting back the traditional Labour stronghold, which was among several across the north to fall from the party’s grasp back in 2019.

Incumbent MP Chris Clarkson caused a "political earthquake" in that winter election, pulling off a shock result to become the first Conservative to ever represent the constituency.

But with Labour now consistently polling ahead of the Tories, the party will no doubt see it as one of the seats it must win back if it is to return to government.

Cllr Blundell said it was "an honour" to have been selected and believes Labour has "the movement to win here in Heywood and Middleton".

“Heywood and Middleton deserves better than this government.

"After 13 years of the Tories, nothing in this country seems to work anymore,” she said in a statement.

“The Tories have broken Britain – and they are too distracted by chaos of their own making to fix it.” 

She added: “We are five Tory prime ministers on and what has our country got to show for it? Food prices and energy costs spiralling out of control, longer hospital waiting lists and crime through the roof.”

Cllr Blundell also claims that "only Labour has a plan to help people through the cost of living crisis, tackle NHS waiting lists and ensure people feel safe on our streets".

A Labour spokesperson said Cllr Blundell was an "outstanding choice" for the constituency.

They said: “Elsie is best placed to make the case for the investment Heywood and Middleton needs in vital public services – like transport, the NHS and education – after 13 years of Tory mismanagement.”

The Conservatives have defended their record in power, saying they have "got the big calls right" since 2019, despite the challenges of the pandemic and the Ukraine war.

A spokesperson said: “Rishi Sunak and the Conservative government are focused on five immediate priorities, to halve inflation, grow the economy, reduce debt, cut NHS waiting lists and tackle illegal immigration.

 “The Labour Party has no plan to deliver on the priorities of the British people – offering the same old plans: unfunded spending, higher debt, and uncontrolled migration.”

By the time the next general election is called the constituency is likely to have been renamed "Heywood" – with South and East Middleton hived off to a new ‘Manchester Blackley’ constituency under a boundary shake-up.