HYNDBURN'S Conservatives are pinning their hopes of a blue win at the next General Election on author and human rights campaigner James Mawdsley.
The 31-year-old replaces Hyndburn Council leader Peter Britcliffe, who decided not to stand this time after unsuccessful campaigns in the past two elections.
Mr Mawdsley, who has lectured in politics across the world, was sentenced to 17 years in a Burmese jail in 1997 after being arrested for protesting about human rights violations. He spent 14 months in solitary confinement and was beaten by prison guards.
His story was reported internationally and, after he was released in 1999, he went on to write a book about his experiences called The Iron Road.
He has also written another book, The Heart Must Break: the Fight for Truth and Democracy in Burma.
Mr Mawdsley, who lives in Rishton with his wife Elizabeth, said: "I love Hyndburn and intend to fight tooth and nail to win the parliamentary seat and represent the area at Westminster.
"It's time for a change - time to replace Labour complacency with enthusiastic, compassionate and caring Conservatism. I believe I can win and bring about this change."
- The far-right British National Party will contest the Hyndburn seat for the first time. BNP regional organiser Dave Jones said they were aiming for second place.
He said: "We're sufficiently mature to realise it's the first time we've stood and we're unlikely to win. We'll definitely save our deposit and we hope to beat the Conservatives."
Their candidate, Chris Jackson, is a former BNP regional organiser and stood as a candidate in the 1999 European parliamentary elections. He was unavailable for comment this week but Mr Jones outlined the party's plans for Hyndburn.
He said: "We will be waging a keen but responsible campaign. We ask people to pay attention to what we say and not what others say we say."
Labour MP Greg Pope, who has been Hyndburn's voice in parliament for more than 10 years, said: "It is a real privilege to represent Hyndburn and I would never take that or the electorate for granted. I'm a hard-working local MP and I look forward to the coming campaign."
The election is tipped for 5 May.