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CCHQ has just emailed the candidates approved for the City Seats Initiative inviting applications to compete for 80 constituencies.

The CSI selection process works rather differently to the normal selection process. Seats are grouped into local clusters (presented in capitals in the list below) of two or more constituencies in the same area. Candidates can apply to be part of the “team” for a particular cluster – if successful, the team (which numbers more candidates than the cluster has seats) will spend several months campaigning across all the constituencies – at the end of which the local associations will vote on which candidates they prefer. The top ranked candidates get selected.

This obviously has a few implications. First, the more drawn-out, competitive process is thought to be a good way to get more campaigning time out of candidates before selection, and for local members to really get to know their suitors. Second, the seats themselves are chosen for this approach because they are deemed to be areas where the Conservative Party is weaker rather than in close contention for first place. Third, while local party members get the eventual choice of candidate it is CCHQ which effectively decides the shortlist by choosing who gets onto the team of candidates competing in each cluster.

It’s particularly interesting to read this list while bearing in mind that idea that these are our weaker areas. Labour’s majority in Wakefield is only 1,613 votes, while in Penistone and Stocksbridge it is 3,049. We know that target seats for 2015 are being chosen based on more than just majorities, but one would have thought that seats like these are odd choices for a list of harder to reach constituencies. Neither would ordinarily be deemed a mountainous majority to overcome.

Here is the full list:

BARNSLEY
Barnsley Central
Barnsley East
Penistone and Stocksbridge

BIRMINGHAM
Birmingham Hall Green
Birmingham Hodge Hill
Birmingham Ladywood
Birmingham Perry Barr
Birmingham Yardley

BOLTON AND WIGAN
Bolton South East
Leigh
Makerfield
Wigan

CHESHIRE
Halton
Warrington North

COALFIELDS
Ashfield
Bolsover
Chesterfield
Mansfield

COVENTRY
Coventry North East
Coventry North West
Coventry South

DONCASTER
Doncaster Central
Doncaster North
Don Valley

LEEDS
Leeds Central
Leeds East
Leeds North West
Leeds West

LIVERPOOL
Bootle
Garston and Halewood
Knowsley
Liverpool Riverside
Liverpool Wavertree
Liverpool West Derby
Liverpool Walton
St Helens North
St Helens South and Whiston

MANCHESTER
Manchester Blackley and Broughton
Manchester Central
Manchester Gorton
Manchester Withington

MIDDLESBROUGH AND REDCAR
Middlesbrough
Redcar

NORTH TYNE
Newcastle Central
Newcastle East
Newcastle North

OLDHAM AND ROCHDALE
Heywood and Middleton
Oldham East and Saddleworth
Oldham West and Royton
Rochdale

ROTHERHAM
Rotherham
Rother Valley
Wentworth and Dearne

SALFORD AND TRAFFORD
Salford and Eccles
Stretford and Urmston
Worsley and Eccles South

SANDWELL
Warley
West Bromwich East
West Bromwich West

SHEFFIELD
Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough
Sheffield Central
Sheffield Hallam
Sheffield Heeley
Sheffield South East

STOKE ON TRENT
Stoke on Trent Central
Stoke on Trent North
Stoke on Trent South

SOUTH TYNE
Blaydon
Gateshead
Jarrow
South Shields

SUNDERLAND
Sunderland Central
Houghton and Sunderland South
Washington and Sunderland West

TAMESIDE AND STOCKPORT
Ashton under Lyne
Denton and Reddish
Stockport

WAKEFIELD
Hemsworth
Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford
Wakefield

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