Mr Woodcock (31), a special adviser to Gordon Brown and a former aide to ex-Defence Secretary John Hutton, has been selected to contest Mr Hutton’s Barrow & Furness constituency as a Labour/Co-op candidate next year.
At the 2005 general election, Mr Hutton retained the seat with a majority of over 6,000, but following boundary changes, analysts believe Labour’s ‘notional majority’ is now 4,843.
Mr Woodcock becomes the fourth Labour/Co-op PPC to be selected for a relatively safe Labour seat and will hope to join ex-Minister Stephen Twigg (Liverpool West Derby), Geraint Davies (Swansea West) and Stella Creasy (Walthamstow) in the House of Commons after the election.
In addition, Labour/Co-op PPC’s Simon Burgess, Andrew Pakes and Gerry Ryan will contest the marginal seats of Brighton Kempton, Milton Keynes North and Croydon — all of them notionally Labour following boundary changes.
The selection of seven Labour/Co-op PPC’s in current Labour or marginal seats raises the prospect that the Movement may maintain or even increase its representation after the poll and Co-operative Party General Secretary Michael Stephenson told the News: “One of the Party’s strategic objectives is to try to ensure the election of as many effective co-operators at all levels of government.
“By re-opening our Parliamentary Panel we are making sure that the pool of available talent for the general election is deep enough and broad enough to give the Movement the quality and quantity of Parliamentarian it needs to take our agenda forward. The quality of candidates is very high and we expect more to be selected as PPCs over the coming months.”
There are currently 29 Labour/Co-op MPs at Westminster, but four have announced that they are standing down at the election.