I can reveal that the three candidates shortlisted in Hornchurch and Upminster, where Dame Angela Watkinson is stepping down, are:
- Shaun Bailey AM: A former adviser to the David Cameron, Bailey first came to prominence as the Conservative candidate in Hammersmith in 2010, and was elected to the London Assembly on the London-wide list in 2016. He is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies, and has long been an outspoken critic of the social harm done by left wing policies. In 2013 he made headlines when it was reported he believed he had been pushed out of No 10 by an Etonian clique. Before the 2015 General Election, he was longlisted in Croydon South and shortlisted in Kensington.
- Cllr Julia Dockerill: A Conservative Councillor in Tower Hamlets since 2014, where she represents the ward of St Katharine’s and Wapping, Dockerill works in Parliament as Chief of Staff to Mark Field MP. Born and raised in Essex, she was co-author with Field of the books The Best of Times and Between the Crashes, and is currently working on a social and economic modern history of London called London in the Noughties.
- Simon Jones: Currently policy Special Adviser to Chris Grayling in the Department for Transport, Jones previously served as Grayling’s SpAd when he was Leader of the House. He contested Dagenham and Rainham in 2010, and stood against Yvette Cooper in Pontefract and Castleford in 2005. Born and brought up in Essex, he is a former Association Chairman of Epping Forest Conservatives. Prior to becoming a SpAd, he worked for PR agency Lexington and prior to that for Aviva. Between 2004 and 2008 he was a political adviser to Lord Ashcroft.
I gather there’s some surprise and disappointment among some local members that Syed Kamall, the well-liked MEP for London, hasn’t made the list.
Watkinson secured a 13,074 vote majority in Hornchurch and Upminster in 2015. The association will meet to select its candidate from the above shortlist on Wednesday 26th April.