Another association which is set to pick its candidate is Newark, the seat currently held by ex-Tory MP Patrick Mercer, who will be departing at the next election.
The Newark Advertiser reports that the final shortlist of four is as follows:
- Edward Argar. A Westminster councillor and Cabinet member for City Management, Transport and Environment, he fought the Lib/Lab marginal constituency of Oxford East at the 2010 General Election, where he increased the Conservative vote by 1.5 percentage points. Before moving to a career in the private sector, he worked for Michael Ancram when he was Shadow Foreign Secretary,
- Nigel Huddleston. As the Conservative candidate in Luton South at the last election, Huddleston halved the Labour majority and had the unexpected experience of Esther Rantzen entering the race as an Independent. Currently the Industry Head for Travel at Google, he is a long-standing member of the Tory Reform Group and has had a taste of US politics, too, volunteering in the recall campaign which saw Arnold Schwarzenegger become Governor of California.
- Robert Jenrick. As Tory candidate in Newcastle-under-Lyme in 2010, Jenrick reduced Labour’s majority from 8,108 to 1,552. Having worked as a lawyer, and in managing his family’s manufacturing business, he is now International Business Director at Christie’s, the auction house. He has a strong interest in heritage and conservation.
- Cllr David Lloyd.A local businessman, Cllr Lloyd sits on the Town and District councils and leads the Conservative group on Newark Town Council. Of the four, he is the only clearly local candidate.
The Newark Conservative Association will be meeting tonight to select the PPC for 2015.
There’s an interesting pattern emerging with various of the selections currently underway. Several candidates are now crossovers:
- Edward Argar is shortlisted for tonight’s selection in Newark and for tomorrow’s Open Primary in Tonbridge and Malling.
- Robert Jenrick is shortlisted in Newark and has made the longlist in Croydon South.
- Nigel Huddleston is also shortlisted in Newark and in the 15 person longlist for Croydon South.
- Chris Philp has made the final 15 in Croydon South and is in the final 4 in Tonbridge and Malling.
This is a positive sign for those candidates, who are evidently performing well in interviews and other tests on a regular basis.
There are some procedural connotations, though. It’s not yet clear what happens if, for example, Edward Argar is picked tonight – does a fifth-placed candidate join the Tonbridge and Malling Open Primary at a few hours’ notice, or do they go ahead with three candidates instead of the planned four? Similarly, if one of the others was to be selected in Newark or Tonbridge, will Croydon South add new people to their longlist or simply trim their 15 down to 14?
We’ll endeavour to find out, and keep you informed as the various selections progress.