By Paul Goodman
Follow Paul on Twitter.
Grant Shapps is setting about reviving the Conservative Party website (see Tim Montgomerie's piece here) and its Blue Blog. This evening, the blog is his venue for announcing that selection begins today for the following 14 marginal seats:
Birmingham Northfield, Labour majority of 2,782
Bolton West, Labour majority of 92
Brecon and Radnorshire, Liberal Democrat majority of 3,747
Chippenham, Liberal Democrat majority of 2,470
Chorley, Labour majority of 2,593
Eastbourne, Liberal Democrat majority of 3,435
Mid Dorset and North Poole, Liberal Democrat majority of 269
Middlesborough South and East Cleveland, Labour majority of 1,677
Morley and Outwood, Labour majority of 1,505
North Devon, Liberal Democrat majority of 5,821
Somerton and Frome, Liberal Democrat majority of 1,817
Telford, Labour majority of 981
Torbay, Liberal Democrat majority of 4,078
Vale of Clwyd, Labour majority of 2,509
Readers wlll see that as before these are a mixture of Labour and Liberal Democrat-held seats. Perhaps one was selected to make up the lucky number, in the spirit of Bilbo Baggins's recruitment in the Hobbit. I wonder which.
This is the third such announcement. We reported the first here and the second here. The party site lists Paul Scully, who was selected for Sutton and Cheam late in December, alongside Cllr Mary Robinson (Cheadle), Cllr Hannah David (Harrow West) and Mark Isherwood AM (Delyn).
All four, then, have a record of service to the party – a trend I noted recently – since Scully is a former Sutton councillor, and "his children, both born in St Helier hospital attended Sutton schools".
Paul Burstow, the current LibDem MP, narrowly fought off a strong challenge from Philippa Stroud, social justice campaigner and adviser to Iain Duncan Smith, at the last election to hold the seat by the slender margin of 1,608 votes.