A veteran Conservative MP is to challenged for his seat by Alex Bryce, a Labour party activist who writes comment pieces for PinkNews.co.uk

The 24-year-old has been contributing to PinkNews.co.uk since April on a range of topics including homophobia in sport and the future of the gay rights movement.

He has been selected as the Labour Parliamentary candidate for Macclesfield. The seat is held by right-wing Tory MP Sir Nicholas Winterton.

The local party’s selection of Alex will now go to Labour’s National Executive Committee for approval.

Alex is currently parliamentary assistant to Dr Ashok Kumar MP and lives in London with his long-standing boyfriend.

He told PinkNews.co.uk:

“It is a great honour to be selected. There is a good strong local team of activists and pockets of Labour supporters who I will be looking to mobilise.

“Sir Nicholas Winterton has represented Macclesfield since 1971 so he’s a bit of a permanent fixture.

“The contrasts between the two of us are stark and I hope I can offer voters a refreshing alternative – particularly all those liberal-minded voters who aren’t happy with his record on social issues, especially gay rights.”

Sir Nicholas is a trenchant opponent of gay equality. Since 1997 he has voted in favour of retaining Section 28 and against the equalisation of the age of consent, civil partnerships and gay adoption.

In 1998 he said in the House of Commons:

“Am I not correct in saying that a homosexual act is unnatural, and that if the Lord Almighty had meant men to commit sodomy with other men, their bodies would have been built differently?”

The 69-year-old told the Macclesfield Express that he stands by his comments, and claimed to have gay friends.

“I certainly do not consider myself to be homophobic. I have a number of friends who I believe are of that (homosexual) orientation and as far as I’m concerned they will still be my friends.

“I don’t seek to harass those with that lifestyle. But do I believe that it is a totally acceptable lifestyle? The answer is no I do not.”

Sir Nicholas also said he would fight Mr Bryce on issues such as immigration, law and order and the environment.

There have been persistent rumours that Prime Minister Gordon Brown may call a general election as early as next month, though most commentators expect him to go to the country sometime in spring 2008.

Macclesfield has been a safe Tory seat since 1918.

At the last election Sir Nicholas took just under 50% of the vote, while the Labour candidate won 29%.

Despite his 36 years in the House of Commons, he has never held a government or shadow position.

His wife Ann, the MP for neighbouring Congleton, was sacked from the Tory frontbench in 2002 for telling a racist joke.

In 2004 she was temporarily suspended from the party for racist comments about the death of illegal Chinese immigrant workers who were drowned picking cockles in Morecambe Bay.