The final shortlist of four has been announced for the Bury St Edmunds seat. It’s currently occupied by David Ruffley, who is standing down at the next election. The candidate to succeed him will be named on 4th November.
Here are biographies for two of the candidates, courtesy of Mark Wallace:
- 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. She was a finalist in the South Cambridgeshire selection.
- 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 in the UK for AOL, and advised the Conservatives in Opposition on Media policy. She was a finalist in Wealden and North East Hampshire and South Cambridgeshire, and was longlisted in South East Cambridgeshire.
And here are biographies for the other two:
- James Cleverly. A sometime contributor to ConHome, Cleverly is currently the London Assembly Member for Bexley and Bromley, as well as Chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority. He succeeded Bob Neill in the seat, achieving a 75,237-vote majority in 2008 and a 47,768 one in 2012. Previously, in 2005, he was the Conservative candidate for the Westminster seat of Lewisham East, increasing the Tory share by 0.3 percentage points but finishing second behind Labour. As well as working in the web publishing world, he has served in the Army and risen to the rank of Major in the Territorial Army.
- Zehra Zaidi. Another sometime contributor to ConHome, Zaidi has previously been shortlisted for the seat of Salisbury in 2010 and was a candidate for the European Parliament seat of South West England in 2009. She used to be a mergers and acquisitions solicitor, but has since worked on various political and social projects, from human rights work in Pakistan to nurturing youth leadership in the UK, as well as advising Andrew Mitchell on international development. Last year, she was nominated for an Asian Women of Achievement Award.
In 2010, Ruffley held the seat with 27,899 votes – a majority of 12,380, or 21.1 percentage points, over the Lib Dems.