Former Blackburn MP Jack Straw has said voters have 'no justification' for voting for Workers Party of Britain candidate Craig Murray at the forthcoming General Election.

The ex-British ambassador to Uzbekistan has been chosen to contest the seat by the party created by Rochdale MP George Galloway who won a by-election in Rochdale last month.

The political veteran won the seat by a landslide after Labour withdrew support for its candidate, Lancashire County Cllr Azhar Ali, who represents Nelson East, for alleged anti-Semitic remarks.

Mr Murray was the UK's envoy in Uzbekistan from 2002 to 2004 before being dismissed.

In 2005 he stood as an Independent in Blackburn against then Foreign Secretary Mr Straw.

He came fifth out of seven candidates with 2,082 votes.

Lancashire Telegraph: Craig Murray, centre, with George GallowayCraig Murray, centre, with George Galloway (Image: Workers Party of Britain)

Now he will take on Labour man Mr Straw's successor Kate Hollern when Prime Minister Rishi Sunak calls the national poll at some point in the next nine months.

Other confirmed candidates for the Blackburn constituency so far are Adam Waller-Slack for the Liberal Democrats, and Paul Topping of the Social Democratic Party.

Mr Straw said: "The last time Mr Murray stood in Blackburn, in 2005 against me, he got fewer votes than the British National Party.

"At least there was a credible explanation for him standing - I was Foreign Secretary and had been heavily involved in the Iraq war.

"But Mr Murray's candidacy this time can enjoy no such justification.

"Kate Hollern has been vocal in her condemnation both of the Hamas atrocity of October 7 and of the subsequent often indiscriminate killing of innocent Palestinian men women and children.

"Kate has built an excellent reputation as the town's MP.

"My guess is the voters in the town will treat this candidacy with the contempt it deserves."

An article on the Workers Party of Britain website says: "In Murray, Blackburn discovers its champion of the working class – a stalwart advocate who will relentlessly amplify the voices of the marginalised."

Mrs Hollern said: "'After 14 years of the Conservatives, the country desperately needs change.

"I am very proud to have dedicated my time to serving our communities, and my passion for our town remains stronger than ever.

"I am committed to being an ardent and powerful voice for local people.

"I recognise that there will be a number of candidates standing.

"The electors will have to decide who they feel best represents the town – and I have a record of delivering for Blackburn.

"It would be an honour and a privilege to continue as our town’s MP.’