LABOUR members have voiced disquiet over the party’s decision to stand a “white man” against firebrand Tory incumbent Philip Davies.

The nation’s eyes will be on the seat at the General Election as Women’s Equality Party leader Sophie Walker takes on Mr Davies, a vocal critic of ‘political correctness’.

And with feminism likely to be high on the political agenda, local Labour members say they had hoped the party would field a strong female candidate.

The ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) last week selected Steve Clapcote, who lost to Mr Davies in 2015. He officially started his campaign with a stall in Shipley market square on Saturday.

Labour member Sara Mogford, of Baildon, said she was incredibly disappointed that Labour chiefs were standing “a white man against Philip Davies - who also lost last time”.

She said: “If they didn’t feel they had anyone good and strong and female to stand against Philip Davies, let’s get behind the Women’s Equality Party.”

Ms Mogford said they had missed a rare opportunity to build a progressive alliance to oust Mr Davies, saying the Greens had been brave to withdraw from the race.

Fellow Baildon resident and lifelong Labour voter Katya Kitchingman said she still hoped the party would have a change of heart and back the Women’s Equality Party.

She said: “We can save ourselves if we work together with Sophie and I am still extremely hopeful my party will engage in a bit of local disobedience and join the good fight.”

The Telegraph & Argus understands a panel of NEC and regional figures considered four applications for the Labour nomination.

Mr Clapcote, a lecturer at the University of Leeds, said the tight timetable of the snap election meant the Labour party was giving preference to people who had stood in 2015, and as a result he had been approached.

He said despite Mr Davies having beaten him by more than 9,000 votes, he felt it would be different this time.

He said there were now far more local Labour members to help canvass for support, and he said the last election had also given him “a lot more confidence”.

On whether Labour should have stood a female candidate, Mr Clapcote said the party had a long history of championing women’s rights and having all-women shortlists.

But he said this time around, “this desire to have a candidate who knew the ropes and knew what they were doing would have trumped that person’s gender”.

Ann Cryer, the former Labour MP for Keighley who lives in the Shipley constituency, said: “I think it would have been better had it been a woman, but I’m not going to start complaining and making an issue about it.”

She said party officials had been working incredibly hard to secure candidates quickly.

Mrs Cryer said around a week ago, there had been a meeting to start a Shipley Labour Party women’s forum, and most people there had been of the view that they should stand a candidate rather than endorsing the Women’s Equality Party.

She added: “I think they may not be madly keen about Steve but poor thing, he can’t be a woman. We can’t do anything about that.”