Today, South East Cambridgeshire will pick the final four to progress into the constituency’s Open Primary. The hopefuls are seeking to succeed Sir Jim Paice, who earlier this year announced his intention to step down at the next election.
The seat has a Conservative majority of 5,946 votes, or 10.3 percentage points.
There have been a few last minute changes, such as one candidate dropping out and another – Nigel Huddleston – being selected as PPC for Mid Worcestershire last night, so there may now be one or two other candidates who aren’t featured below.
Those I’m aware of are as follows:
- Cllr Heidi Allen. A councillor in St Alban’s, Allen is Managing Director of the family manufacturing business. Born in Yorkshire, she studied Astrophysics at University College London before going on to work as an operations manager in organisations as diverse as Royal Mail, Tubelines, Esso and Churchill Insurance Group. Notably, she runs a blog about her campaigning in South East Cambridgeshire, and has evidently been very active there in recent weeks.
- Paul Bristow. The Conservative Future national chairman 2003-05, Bristow stood in Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland in 2010. There, he increased the Conservative vote share by 3.8 percentage points, cutting an 8,000 vote majority to 1,677. He is also a former Hammersmith and Fulham councillor.
- Cllr Antonia Cox. A journalist and Westminster councillor, Cox stood in Islington South and Finsbury in 2010, when she increased the Conservative vote share by 4.6 percentage points. A former banking correspondent for the Daily Telegraph and Leader writer for the Evening Standard, she has also produced reports on defence spending for the Centre for Policy Studies and on volunteering in the Big Society for Res Publica.
- Cllr Christine Emmett. A businesswoman and Rutland County Councillor, Emmett will be recognisable to many readers as the Conservative candidate in the Corby and East Northamptonshire by-election. Playing on a sticky wicket after the departure of Louise Mensch, the campaign was lost but she was generally viewed as acquitting herself well in difficult circumstances. She also sits on the committee of Jesse Norman MP’s Conservative Co-Operative Movement.
- Lucy Frazer. A barrister, 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. A few weeks ago she made the final four in Croydon South.
- Dr Rachel Joyce. A career NHS doctor, and now a partner in a private business, too, Dr Joyce stood in Harrow West in 2010, where she increased the Tory vote share by 6.4 percentage points. 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 Iain Dale and others. Notably, she has long been campaigning for a war crimes investigation in Sri Lanka – a call echoed recently by the Prime Minister. She featured in the longlist for Croydon South at the start of this month.
- Steve Mastin. As Head of History at Sawston Village College, which sits in the neighbouring constituency of South Cambridgeshire, Mastin is one of the more local candidates. He fought Redcar at the 2010 General Election, where the Conservative vote share fell by 4.1 percentage points.
- Cllr Robin Millar. A councillor on Forest Heath District Council, Millar is also a former Mayor of Newmarket. An engineer by training, he now runs his own management consultancy which specialises in local government. A Trustee of the Conservative Christian Fellowship, he is reported to be working with the Centre for Social Justice on a report titled “Mending Broken Britain”.
- Wendy Morton. Currently Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party for Social Action, Morton stood for the marginal seat of Tynemouth at the 2010 General Election, when the Conservative vote share in the seat fell by 2.2 percentage points. A Yorkshirewoman, she runs an electronics company with her husband and is involved with Project Umubano, which sends Conservative volunteers to do development projects in Rwanda. She made the longlist for Mid Worcestershire last week.
- Charlotte Vere. Currently Executive Director of the Girls’ Schools Association, Vere has worked in the private sector for 25 years. She 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. Like Frazer, she recently made the final four in Croydon South.
- Helen Whately. A management consultant, Whately stood against Ed Davey in Kingston and Surbiton in 2010, where she increased the Tory vote share by 3.5 percentage points. Having worked at PwC among other firms, she helped launch the first online film service in the UK for AOL, and advised the Conservatives in Opposition on Media policy. Earlier this week she competed unsuccessfully in the North East Hampshire Open Primary.
(If there’s anyone we’ve missed in the changes in the last couple of days, please email the Editors here.)
Once the final four are picked, they will face an Open Primary on Saturday 7th December.