Matthew Offord is MP for Hendon and John Stevenson is MP for Carlisle.
The date of the Clacton by-election has been announced and CCHQ now hs to consider who the Conservative candidate will for this vitally important contest. There are many able people on the candidates’ list who are keen to fight a by-election – but there is one figure a who should be seriously considered.
This forthcoming contest is a potentially seismic moment for the Conservative Party. While this is perceived by many commentators (and the general public) to be an opportunity for UKIP to win a parliamentary seat, it has potential for the Conservative Party as well and also – dare we say it – for Boris Johnson.
Winning the by-election is a real possibility. A victory in Clacton would follow the success in Newark, where the Conservative Party clearly beat UKIP with the message that only the Conservatives can deliver a referendum on Europe. For Boris, this is an opportunity for him to step up to the plate, show his political courage, fight for the Conservative cause and clearly set out his willingness to play for the team.
Were Boris to win, he would clearly have demonstrated his continuing ability to win difficult elections, as well as his ability to attract voters outside London. It would energise our local members, set the agenda and send a powerful message to the Labour Party that seats such as our own (Carlisle and Hendon) are winnable for the Conservative Party in 2015.
There is no doubt that a loss for UKIP would be a major setback. It could potentially de-rail the Farage bandwagon, and provide reassurance to steady the nerves of several Conservative MPs. Boris’s individual personality would attract not just the traditional Conservative voter, but many from the other parties – including UKIP.
Seeking the selection and winning the parliamentary seat in Uxbridge at the next general election would be no great achievement. However, taking up the political challenge of Clacton now would be hugely significant not just for the Conservative Party but for Boris himself.
For us, Boris has been an outstanding Mayor of London, but there have been doubts over his suitability as a potential future leader of the Party. A win in Clacton could change that.