We recently reported that the Croydon South Association has whittled down a large number of applicants to a longlist of 15 would-be PPCs, who are now being put through their paces to pick the final shortlist.
I’m now in a position to confirm the names of 14 of the 15 candidates – a list which includes all three of those whom we predicted would do well in the process back at the start of the month.
Here they are (in alphabetical order):
- Shaun Bailey. A former adviser to the Prime Minister who now works in the Cabinet Office, Bailey first came to prominence as the Conservative candidate in Hammersmith at the last election. 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. Earlier this year he made headlines when it was reported he believed he had been pushed out of No 10 by an Etonian clique.
- Oliver Dowden. Currently one of the two Deputy Chiefs of Staff to David Cameron, Dowden comes with extensive experience of CCHQ campaigns and two stints in the public affairs industry. He received some unwelcome media attention following an interview in the US in which he spoke candidly about the hectic life of a Downing Street aide, but is widely recognised in Westminster as one of the Government’s most capable advisers.
- Suella Fernandes. A barrister, Fernandes stood against Keith Vaz in Leicester East in 2005. She is a co-founder, former chair and now trustee of the Africa Justice Foundation, which seeks to help African nations develop more robust and stable justice systems as a foundation for economic growth and social improvement.
- Cllr Mike Fisher. As the Leader of Croydon council, Cllr Fisher is the local candidate – as he made clear when speaking about his application to the Croydon Advertiser last month. Having pledged that if selected he will lead the Conservative Council group through the 2014 elections, his message on the local government front is all about Croydon’s redevelopment – particularly attracting new investment and building new houses.
- Lucy Frazer. The second barrister on our list, Frazer specialises in commercial law. She is an activist in Hampstead and Kilburn Conservatives, an ultra-marginal seat in which campaigning is all, where she is Deputy Chairman of the Association. As a bit of trivia, I’m told that at University she apparently dated Gavin Barwell – now the MP for Croydon Central. (Update: another source gets in touch to say they knew each other at University but were just friends.)
- Nusrat Ghani. Over recent years, Ghani has held a number of high profile roles in the public affairs industry, having worked for the BBC World Service, Breakthrough Breast Cancer, and Age Concern among others. She joined the Conservative Party in 2009, in response to Cameron’s call for would-be candidates, and stepped into the breach when the PPC in Birmingham Ladywood stood down only 100 days before the 2010 election. Despite the short campaign, the Conservative vote share increased by 3.5 percentage points.
- Melanie Hampton. An entrepreneur who set up her own insurance brokers, Hampton is a born and bred Londoner who stood in 2010 for Mitcham and Morden. She describes herself as “fun, feisty and formidable” and has written in the past for ConservativeHome about the benefits of being a female candidate. As well as her work, she is a Governor of an inner-city London school.
- Nigel Huddleston. As the Conservative candidate in Luton South at the last election, Huddleston halved the Labour majority and had the unexpected experience of Esther Rantzen entering the race as an Independent. Currently the Industry Head for Travel at Google, he is a long-standing member of the Tory Reform Group and has had a taste of US politics, too, volunteering in the recall campaign which saw Arnold Schwarzenegger become Governor of California.
- Dr Rachel Joyce. An NHS doctor for over 20 years, and now a partner in a private business, too, Dr Joyce stood in Harrow West in 2010, where she turned the seat from a long-shot to a designated battleground and secured a swing of almost 6 per cent. She was rather unfairly forced to resign as Deputy PCC in Hertfordshire earlier this year after retweeting a message saying that Hitler was a socialist – but was strongly defended by, among others, Iain Dale of this parish. Her supporters will be glad to see her back in the running for Parliamentary seats.
- Kit Malthouse. Currently Boris’ Deputy Mayor of London for Business and Enterprise and Member of the London Assembly for West Central, Malthouse has extensive experience of local government including serving as Deputy Leader of Westminster Council. As well as campaigning on policing and dangerous dogs, he is an outspoken advocate of London – recently urging the rest of the UK to spend more of its tourism marketing budget on promoting the capital.
- Chris Philp. An entrepreneur and campaigner, Philp was pipped to the post in Hampstead and Kilburn in 2010 by only 42 votes after securing a 9.8 per cent swing. 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 theTaxPayers’ Alliance report “Work for the Dole”, recommending welfare reforms which the Government swiftly adopted. He is also in the final four who will face the Tonbridge and Malling Open Primary tomorrow.
- Ruth Porter. Having made a name for herself in think tank circles as Communications Director of the revitalised Institute for Economic Affairs, Porter announced only a few weeks ago that she was joining Policy Exchange as Head of Economics and Social Policy. She is an experienced media performer with a strong knowledge of the policy landscape.
- Cllr Laura Trott. Not to be confused with the Olympic cyclist of the same name, Trott is an adviser to the Prime Minister on women’s issues, and added education and childcare to her brief a few months ago. Previously Special Adviser to Francis Maude at the Cabinet Office, she is also a Councillor in Camden, where she represents the Frognal and Fitzjohns ward.
- Charlotte Vere. Currently Executive Director of the Girls’ Schools Association, Vere was the Conservative candidate in Brighton Pavilion, where she increased the Tory vote but saw Caroline Lucas turn the constituency Green. She was Finance Director of the victorious No2AV campaign in the 2011 referendum, and has campaigned for Conservative policies to be better targeted at women voters.
Readers who are particularly good at maths will notice that there is an absent 15th name, which for some reason none of our sources were able to recall. If you know who they are (or if you’re the person in question) do feel free to get in touch and they will be added in due course.
As a longlist it’s quite varied – with first-time candidates as well as experienced fighters from 2005 and 2010; entrepreneurs and Number 10 advisers; doctors and lawyers; campaigners and think tankers. It will be interesting to see to what extent a local background plays in the shortlisting and the eventual selection – several but not all candidates are Londoners, and one is the local Council Leader.
I can now complete the list by revealing the 15th candidate:
- Robert Jenrick. As Tory candidate in Newcastle-under-Lyme in 2010, Jenrick reduced Labour’s majority from 8,108 to 1,552. Having worked as a lawyer, and in managing his family’s manufacturing business, he is now International Business Director at Christie’s, the auction house. He has a strong interest in heritage and conservation.