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The final four have been announced for the candidate selection in South Cambridgeshire. Andrew Lansley announced in the reshuffle that he intends to stand down from parliament, and the local association will choose a candidate to succeed him on 11th October.

The shortlist comprises:

  • Cllr Heidi Allen. A Councillor in St Alban’s, Allen is Managing Director of the family manufacturing business. Born in Yorkshire, she studied Astrophysics at University College London before going on to work as an operations manager in organisations as diverse as Royal Mail, Tubelines, Esso and Churchill Insurance Group. In December, she was runner-up in the selection race in South East Cambridgeshire.
  • Cllr Jo Churchill. A Lincolnshire County Councillor, where she represents a ward in Grantham, Churchill is the Finance Director of a scaffolding firm. A former school governor, she spends her spare time campaigning for Breakthrough Breast Cancer.
  • Charlotte Vere. Currently Executive Director of the Girls’ Schools Association, Vere has worked in the private sector for 25 years. She was the Conservative candidate in Brighton Pavilion, where she increased the Tory vote but saw Caroline Lucas turn the constituency Green. She was Finance Director of the victorious No2AV campaign in the 2011 referendum, and has campaigned for Conservative policies to be better targeted at women voters. Like Cllr Allen, she was a finalist in South East Cambridgeshire.
  • Helen Whately.  A management consultant working in the health sector, Whately stood against Ed Davey in Kingston and Surbiton in 2010, where she increased the Tory vote share by 3.5 percentage points. Having worked at PwC among other firms, she helped launch the first online film service int he UK for AOL, and advised the Conservatives in Opposition on Media policy. She was a finalist in Wealden and North East Hampshire, and was longlisted in South East Cambridgeshire.

Observant readers will note that all four finalists are female – the association included the following note in its announcement:

‘As it happens, it’s an all female shortlist – it definitely was NOT imposed upon us by anyone.  It’s simply that the Sifting Committee thought these four were the very best from a field of 102, mainly high class candidates.’

This is as it should be, though it’s a reflection of our times that such a declaration was felt necessary.

At the last election, Lansley won the seat with 27,995 votes – a majority over the Liberal Democrats of 7,8383 (13.3 percentage points).

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