MEN will not be able to stand for Southall's parliamentary seat, it was confirmed on Tuesday, prompting a major row within the Labour party.

The decision, following current Southall MP Piara Khabra's decision to step down, was agreed at a meeting of Labour's National Executive Committee on Tuesday night.

Cllr Gurcharan Singh, who would have contended the spot in an open fight, has slammed fellow party members for vindictively conspiring against him.

Cllr Singh, (Lab, Lady Margaret), said: "The real reason for this is Mr Khabra and my opponent, Vivendra Sharma, came to the conclusion that they can't beat me fair and square.

"They convinced people that we should have an all-women shortlist. Now there is no way I can take part - short of getting a sex change.

"He realised he could not beat me so now he is saying: If I'm not getting it then you're not having it either.' I wasn't expecting it and I'm disappointed that the Labour party would aspire to make a decision like this.

"The representation of one group should not be at the expense of another - they should have men and women."

Cllr Singh told the Ealing Times he will do everything in his power to fight the decision.

Councillor Sharma (Lab, Norwood Green) responded, saying: "I'm surprised he thinks I've got that much power. Councillor Singh's comments are childish."

Mr Khabra, 82, is delighted with the decision - and says if Southall's male politicos want to get into parliament they will have to go elsewhere.

"Even if a person thinks they have a right to be a candidate then this is not the only constituency," he said. "There are a number of women who have been in contact with me who live in the area, who were brought up in the area. Any male person has the chance to be selected somewhere else.

"Councillors should not be slinging mud over other people over this."

Labour leader Sonika Nirwal and councillor Jasbir Anand have both expressed interest in the seat for the next general election.

Cllr Anand (Lab, Southall Green) said: "I think the party had to make a decision and they have done that - I hope that everyone will rally around the person who gets selected to the constituency.

"It is not taking anything away from the men. It is a decision that there should be more women represented.

"It is encouraging that more women will be able to come forward and will be encouraged to take a more active role in politics through this."

And Cllr Nirwal said: "I'm very happy that the decison has been made and the party has upheld its national policy.

"I recognise the concerns of some of the other councillors but now a decision has been made and it's time for us to move on for the benefit of the party."

Deputy leader of the Ealing Labour Party Cllr Ranjit Dheer (Lab, Dormer's Well) said what the party needs to do is rally together to make sure the Tories don't take the seat.

"We've had a good argument," he said. "And it was an argument that needed to be held in public.

"Now we should unite behind whoever becomes the labour candidate and do what we can to make sure the Tories don't get in."

If either councillors Anand of Nirwal become the member of Parliament they will be the first Asian female to sit in the House of Commons.