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Dan Jarvis - a surprise choice for Labour in Barnsley

Len Tingle | 13:39 UK time, Friday, 28 January 2011

Dan Jarvis

Dan Jarvis

For the first time since 1938 Labour has chosen a candidate for the Barnsley Central seat who was not born in Yorkshire.

Dan Jarvis, the surprise choice at last night's constituency selection meeting at the town's Oakwell football ground, is also the first one not to be directly linked to the coal industry.

Labour has chosen him to replace disgraced MP Eric Illsley who is on bail awaiting sentencing after admitting fiddling his expenses in court earlier this month.

Thirty-eight-year old Jarvis is a former army major. He served for 15 years in the Parachute Regiment and was seen to be the outsider of the four-strong shortlist of candidates put to members.

He comes from Nottingham but is currently living in Hampshire.

It is thought there had been at least at least 100 nominations as the South Yorkshire seat has been held by Labour for the past 73 years.

Eric Illsley

Eric Illsley won at the last election with a substantial majority of just over 11,000.

As they streamed out after the vote members told me that Dan Jarvis's five minute speech had been the strongest of the other candidates which included a Barnsley councillor and two party activists who came from other parts of Yorkshire.

The clearly delighted candidate told me last night that he was delighted and honoured to have been chosen and was ready to start his campaign.

A by-election is inevitable following the fall from grace of Eric Illsley who has held the seat since 1987.

But It cannot be called until Illsley formally resigns his seat. Almost three weeks after his conviction he has failed to quit and remains on full pay. He will be back in court next month for sentencing.

Labour has held what was the old Barnsley seat continuously since 1938 when it was won by local man Frank Collindridge. He remained as MP for 15 years.

Former Northern Ireland Secretary Roy Mason left the pit to be his home town's MP for even longer.

Now, Lord Mason of Barnsley, he served for 30 years from 1953.

Eric Illsley, born on the town's Kendray estate and a former official of the NUM, took what had now become Barnsley Central, in 1987.

In fact in seven decades the only MP who was not actually born in Barnsley was Sidney Schofield. He held the seat for two years from 1951.

Schofield, who went on to become General Secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers, was the only "outsider".

He came from Pontefract. It is 15 miles across the border in West Yorkshire.

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