Tonight is the selection meeting to pick the candidate to fight Eltham in 2015. While not one of the 40/40 seats, Eltham is a relatively close race in numerical terms.
As one of the raft of Conservative seats lost in 1997 which have yet to be won back, the gap has narrowed in recent years leaving the Labour incumbent, Clive Efford, with a majority of only 1,663 in 2010.
The Association has opted for a traditional selection process, rather than the Open Primary model, so tonight members will be picking one of the following four finalists:
- Cllr Spencer Drury – the Leader of the Conservative Group on Greenwich council, Cllr Drury is Head of Sixth Form at Colfe’s School, an independent school in the constituency. In 2010, he fought the safe Labour seat of Greenwich and Woolwich, where he increased the Conservative vote share by 7 percentage points, leapfrogging the Lib Dems to take second place.
- Matt Hartley – Another local candidate, Hartley works for pfeg, a national financial education charity, and serves as governor of Ealdham Primary School in Eltham. He is Deputy Chairman (Political) of the Conservative Association and volunteers with the local credit union.
- Naomi Newstead – A former housing professional, Newstead is Lewisham-based, a Londoner born and bred. In 2012 she stood for the GLA in the North East constituency, where the Conservative vote share fell by 4.7 percentage points.
- Michael Shearer – A former Army Officer, Shearer specialised in media and communications, a sector in which he has also run his own business.
Good luck, as ever, to the four hopefuls – with local knowledge, campaigning track records, local government experience and military service in the mix I’m sure it will be an interesting competition.