To see all of our reports on shortlists, nominations and selections from the past few days, click here. Thanks to the help of many of our readers, ConservativeHome has been first for selection news, ahead of the national press. If you have any information to share on who is up for selection and where, please click here – all our sources are strictly anonymous.
Shortlist for Hitchin and Harpenden
There are a shrinking number of Conservative-held seats yet to select. Among them is Hitchin and Harpenden (Conservative majority 20,055), where Peter Lilley (pictured, right) is standing down. The association will meet to select a candidate to succeed him on the night of Friday, 5th May. The official notice sent out to local Conservative members says:
“We wanted to provide you with the names and CVs of the applicants but we have been explicitly told that this is forbidden under the selection rules and so we cannot give these details out to you. The candidates’ CVs will be provided to you at the SGM [Special General Meeting].”
ConservativeHome believes candidate selection is the democratic right of local associations, and publishes information on shortlists wherever possible to allow local Party members to consider candidates in due time before voting on them. To that end, we can exclusively reveal that the three shortlisted candidates in Hitchin and Harpenden are as follows:
- Bim Afolami: A former lawyer, Afolami now works as a senior executive at HSBC. He is a primary school governor, and a support of charities which focus on helping people return to work. He contested Lewisham Deptford in the 2015 General Election, is a former Treasurer of the Bow Group and was Vice President of the Oxford Union. He has previously worked for Howard Flight and for George Osborne.
- Catherine Baxendale: Having spent 17 years as a senior executive at Tesco, Baxendale now runs her own HR consultancy. A former “leader’s group” Conservative donor, she is a grammar school girl originally from Buckinghamshire. In 2015, she wrote a critical report of how the civil service manages and retains talent for Francis Maude.
- Shirley Soskin: The managing partner of Silverhawk Partners, a recruitment consultancy, Soskin previously founded Clarion, a successful PR agency. She chairs City Year UK, a charity bringing young people into schools to help disadvantaged pupils. According to the Daily Telegraph, she was involved in David Cameron’s drive for greater female representation in politics but felt unable at the time to stand for election due to the responsibilities of running a business.
- Chichester (Conservative majority 24,413): Cllr Gillian Keegan: Serving as Director of Women2Win since 2015, Keegan sits on Chichester District Council (where she is the Cabinet member for Commercial Services). A businesswoman by background, she contested the constituency of St Helens South and Whiston in the 2015 General Election, and is a member of the Board of Governors for Western Sussex NHS Hospital Trust .
- Northampton South (Conservative majority 3,793): Andrew Lewer: MEP for the East Midlands since 2014, is a former leader of Derbyshire County Council and worked in publishing before getting into politics. A Eurosceptic, who has written previously for this site, he supported Leave in last year’s referendum – effectively pressing to abolish his own job.
- Saffron Walden (Conservative majority 24,991): Kemi Badenoch AM: The Deputy Leader of the Conservative group on the London Assembly, Badenoch was elected to the Assembly on the London-wide list last year having previously become an Assembly Member after Victoria Borwick moved to become an MP. A former director at the Spectator, she has also worked as an associate director at Coutts & co. With degrees in both Engineering and Law, Badenoch has been a governor of two inner city schools. In 2010, she stood (under her maiden name, Kemi Adegoke) in Dulwich and West Norwood against Tessa Jowell, and was shortlisted in Hampstead and Kilburn last week.
- Alyn and Deeside (Labour majority 3,343): Cllr Laura Knightly: Having fought the seat in 2015, Knightly was Welsh HQ’s sole nominee for the nomination this time. She is a councillor in Conwy, representing Towyn, and a legal secretary in her day job.
- Cardiff West (Labour majority 6,789): Matt Smith: A lawyer, Smith fought Cardiff Central in the 2011 Welsh Assembly election and Bethnal Green & Bow in the 2015 General Election. During the EU referendum, he worked as a Policy Analyst for Vote Leave. Smith is a former researcher for the Conservative group in the Welsh Assembly. and has written for this site.
- Norwich South (Labour majority 7,654): Cllr Lana Hempsall: A Broadland District councillor who sits on the Broads Authority, Hempsall contested Denton and Reddish in the 2015 General Election. She works as the Managing Director of an energy market sales firm, and is an Official Speaker for Guide Dogs for the Blind.
- Southampton Test (Labour majority 3,810): Paul Holmes: Formerly a parliamentary adviser to Stephen Hammond, Holmes is currently Special Adviser to Patrick McLoughlin, the Party Chairman. A former councillor and cabinet member on Southampton City Council, and former Chairman of Southampton University Conservatives, he has previously written for this site. He was the Conservative candidate in Mitcham and Morden in 2015.
- Stockton North (Labour majority 8,367): Mark Fletcher: Chief of staff to Lord Popat of Harrow, Fletcher fought Doncaster North in 2015, against Ed Miliband. Born and brought up in the Doncaster area, he has served for several years as a primary school governor.
- Walsall North (Labour majority 1,937) Cllr Eddie Hughes: A Walsall councillor, Hughes was the Conservative candidate for Birmingham Hall Green in 2005. He is the Assistant Chief Executive for YMCA Birmingham, and chairs the board of Walsall Housing Group, a local housing association.
- West Bromwich West (UKIP in second place in 2015, Conservatives third): Dr Andrew Hardie: A local GP and councillor in Sutton Coldfield, Hardie fought this seat in 2010, coming second. It’s a fascinating fight this time, as in 2015 UKIP snuck into second place, and the combined UKIP and Conservative vote was greater than that of the Labour victor.
- Wirral South (Labour majority 4,599): Cllr Adam Sykes: A Wirral councillor, Sykes is the holder of a PhD in Chemistry and is Managing Director of Livepoint, a software company. He is a governor at two local schools.
Walsall South rebels against CCHQ
The latest in a series of grassroots rebellions against shortlists passed down by CCHQ, last night the association executive in Walsall South (Labour majority 6,007) voted not to even hold a selection meeting of the members to consider the two candidates proposed to them. We don’t yet know what the response will be, but as we have reported elsewhere, it seems likely the central party will now impose a candidate.
It’s a further sign of the dash to select candidates in time for the General Election that some constituency associations are meeting tonight, the eve of the local elections to make their selections. Those we are aware of are:
Birmingham Selly Oak (Labour majority 8,447)
Don Valley (Labour majority 8,885)
Rother Valley (UKIP second, Conservatives in third in 2015)
Scunthorpe (Labour majority 3,134)
Tooting (Labour majority 6,357 in the 2016 by-election, 2,842 in 2015): Dan Watkins, 2015 and 2016 candidate, up for unopposed reselection.