LABOUR’S new prospective parliamentary candidate for northwest Durham has described her selection as “an honour and a privilege”.

Pat Glass was chosen from an all-female shortlist during a North-West Durham Constituency Labour Party hustings meeting at Consett Civic Centre on Saturday, filing the vacancy caused by the retirement of current MP Hilary Armstrong at the next General Election.

Mrs Glass, 52, from Lanchester, County Durham, who is a former Lanchester parish councillor, said: “I was very pleased to be selected and felt honoured and privileged.

“I was born in north-west Durham, and have lived there throughout my working life. I understand the area and the challenges we face.”

The party’s all-female shortlist rule sparked controversy in November, when constituency chairman Joe Armstrong refused to take part in the selection process, because the National Executive Committee had “held a gun to their head”.

Yesterday, Councillor Armstrong congratulated Mrs Glass on her selection, but said he would not stand for re-election at the constituency’s annual meeting, next month.

“All I want to do is concentrate on my work as a county councillor, because that is what the people elected me to do,” he said.

“When Hilary Armstrong first announced she was going to step down, there was a preliminary meeting for all constituency members. Two things were wanted – an open shortlist and a local candidate. We have got half of what we wanted and I am pleased the constituency has been consistent.

“Pat Glass got this on a fair, preferential vote. Democracy has prevailed. I would encourage everyone in the constituency to vote for her in the next election.”

Mrs Glass, who is also a Government education advisor, said: “I think the result was a resounding success, and ultimately, whatever the difficulties were at the beginning of this process, members of the party came out and fully engaged with the selection and very much got on board.

“There was standing room only in the hall on Saturday.”

The other shortlisted candidates were: Liz Twist, Unison political officer for the North; Anna Turley, deputy director of the New Local Government Network and former special advisor to Hilary Armstrong as Social Exclusion Minister and David Blunkett as Home Secretary; Lisa Homan, a councillor in London; Lauren Todd, 23, a politics student from Delves Lane, Consett, and Ann Pettifor, an economics writer, commentator and co-founder of the Jubilee 2000 campaign for the cancellation of developing world debt.