PENDLE Tory MP Andrew Stephenson has asked Labour leader Ed Miliband to investigate the party’s selection of Azhar Ali as its candidate for the seat at the next election.

His call comes as the party in Blackburn revealed the names of the nine women officially seeking to succeed Jack Straw in May next year.

County Coun Ali was chosen from 18 hopefuls to fight the marginal seat in September last year.

Now Mr Stephenson has written to Mr Miliband claiming there is ‘disquiet in the Pendle Labour Party over postal voting and the way in which your Parliamentary candidate Azhar Ali was selected’.

The MP is concerned about the role of the Unite union, of which Coun Ali is a member, in the process and an increase of 100 people in the constituency party membership.

Mr Stephenson said: “I would therefore urge you to conduct an investigation into the selection process as a matter of urgency.”

Coun Ali said: “This is an out of touch Tory MP who does not want to talk about the real issues to voters of Pendle including the cost of living crisis, and the government’s attack on the National Health Service. He is running scared and I challenge him to a public debate on the issues to matter to the people of Pendle.”

Blackburn Labour party secretary Phil Riley said nine people had officially entered the contest to be Labour’s candidate in May 2015 and local party branches and affiliated unions have two weeks to make nominations.

The list is headed by Blackburn with Darwen borough leader Kate Hollern and Manchester city councillor Nasrin Ali.

A Labour North West spokesperson said: “The Labour Party is committed to ensuring that selections are fair. Calls for an investigation of the Pendle parliamentary selection are unfounded and political opportunism.”