Tonbridge and Malling Conservative Association have now announced the final four candidates who will be going through to the Open Primary on 2nd November.

Like Croydon South, the candidates went through a combination of campaign tests and interviews, and Andrew Kennedy has a full account of the final day’s interviews here.

The final four who will be facing the people next Saturday are:

  • Edward Argar: A Westminster councillor and Cabinet member for City Management, Transport and Environment, he fought the Lib/Lab marginal constituency of Oxford East at the 2010 General Election, where he increased the Conservative vote by 1.5 percentage points. Before moving to a career in the private sector, he worked for Michael Ancram when he was Shadow Foreign Secretary,
  • Vicky Atkins: A criminal prosecutor, specialising in fraud and other complex cases, she stood to be the Gloucestershire PCC a year ago. Having won the first round, she was defeated on preferences in the second round by an Independent candidate. Her website emphasises the practical campaigning experience she gained from the process, and her continued work in the voluntary party incuding serving as Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Policy Forum’s Justice and Home Affairs Group.
  • Chris Philp: An entrepreneur and campaigner (who is also in the running in Croydon South), Philp was pipped to the post in Hampstead and Kilburn in 2010 by only 42 votes after securing a 9.8 per cent swing. As his website points out, he spent much of his childhood assisting his father on archaeological digs around Kent. He has remained active in both business and politics since the election, acting as the Conservative No2AV Co-Ordinator in London, and most recently cropped up as the author of the TaxPayers’ Alliance report “Work for the Dole”, recommending welfare reforms which the Government swiftly adopted.
  • Thomas Tugendhat: A former Army officer who served in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, Tugendhat latterly served as the Military Assistant to the Chief of the Defence Staff. He, too, has become involved in the policy debate, co-authoring ‘The Fog of Law” for Policy Exchange, a high profile report on the dangers of allowing human rights law to interfere on the battlefield.

The Association will publish official personal statements tomorrow on the official TMselects website, so the above details are simply potted biographies from our own research. If you live in the constituency and would like to attend the final selection event, it is free and open to any voter – and the details are here.

The Tonbridge and Malling selection is a welcome return to the Open Primary model, and it will be very interesting to see who the electorate chooses. Each candidate has their own strengths and political experience, and there is no one individual who leaps out as a hyperlocal candidate – a factor which has swung such selections in the past.

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