Although Sir Alastair held the seat with a majority of only 1,185 at the last general election, Labour played down their chances. A senior party spokesman said it would be misleading to take the 1997 result as a starting point because the fall in the Conservatives' majority was part of the national swing against the party.
He added that the recent results of the European elections were probably more realistic when assessing a likely outcome. The Tories picked Stephen O'Brien as their candidate. Labour and Liberal Democrats have still to select.
1997 general election result: Goodlad (C) 21,027; Hanson (Lab) 19,842; Reaper (LD) 6,540; Napier (Referendum Party) 2,041.Reuse content