Applications have to be received by party headquarters by 10am Monday 23rd January.
Longlisted candidates will be notified later that day and invited to an interview by the NEC shortlisting panel on Tuesday 24th January.
Once the interviews are completed, they will make a shortlist and notify the candidates of the outcome.
The selection meeting by the good comrades of Stoke-on-Trent Central Labour Party takes place on Wednesday 25th January.
Shiver me timbers, I've seen long selections, short selections, and stitched selections, but never one married to such a tight timetable. This time next week we will have a Labour candidate in place who will (hopefully) go on to be the next MP for Stoke Central!
Why the hurry? The Christian People's Alliance caught everyone on the hop by announcing their by-election candidate on Tuesday. Of slightly more significance, UKIP are due to select on Friday. The papers are convinced it's Nuttall, but the kipper skipper is staying mum. I can't imagine local UKIP supremo Mick Harold would be too happy. Here he is, years of hard work and gruelling campaigning only for the leader to parachute onto his turf to tell him to bugger off. Could history repeat itself? I for one would welcome Nuttall's decision to stand, because it provides Labour a fantastic opportunity to give him the drubbing he so thoroughly deserves. We have the means. If we select the right candidate and carefully choose our platform, we'll have the ways.
While we're talking about internal competitive elections for the Labour Party, I might as well announce my candidacy ... for the chair of City Centre Branch of Stoke Central CLP. If you're a member of the branch, I hope you can make the meeting at 6.30 on Friday and that I can count on your support.