Congratulations to Victoria Atkins, who was chosen to succeed Sir Peter Tapsell as Conservative candidate for Louth and Horncastle in an Open Primary on Monday night.
Over 200 local voters turned up to choose between the four finalists, and it turned out to be a hard-fought contest going to three rounds of voting, which is a testament to the quality of the candidates.
Sarah Macken was eliminated first, followed by Cllr James Browne, leaving local activist Kelly Smith and Victoria as the last two. Atkins’ experience in three previous Open Primaries may have helped her win out – though I’m sure we’ll be hearing again from those whom she defeated.
In Louth and Horncastle, they now have a strong candidate around whom to build their 2015 campaign – a prosecutor and mother, she is also the daughter of former MP and MEP Sir Robert Atkins. In her first speech as the candidate, accepting the nomination, she thanked the assembled members of the public for taking part in the Open Primary process.
For those following debates over the gender balance in the Parliamentary Conservative Party, this is another example of a female candidate being selected to succeed an outgoing male MP – and doing so in a fair contest, not artificially through an all-women shortlist. That’s a credit to the candidate and the local association – and another rebuff to some of the more alarmist rhetoric coming from some quarters in recent weeks.