In July, David Willetts announced his decision to stand down at the next election – leaving open Havant, a constituency with a majority of 12,160, 27.7 per cent of the vote.

Now we have the names of the twelve candidates who have made it onto the longlist to succeed him, out of a field of 96 applicants.

They will all be interviewed and assessed by a combination of the Association Executive and leaders drawn from the local community, and the final four will compete for the nomination at an open caucus meeting (open to all voters in the constituency) on Saturday 25th October. If you live in the constituency, you can register to attend by emailing or leaving your name and address on 02392 475 066.

The longlisted candidates are:

  • Suella Fernandes is a Harrow-born barrister, and stood against Keith Vaz in Leicester East in 2005. She is a co-founder, former chair and now trustee of the Africa Justice Foundation, and a co-founder of the Michaela Community School, a free school in Brent. She was one of the final four (alongside Boris) in Uxbridge last month.
  • Sian Flynn. Currently a member of the Parole Board for England and Wales, Flynn’s career has included Chairing Ashford and St Peters Hospitals NHS Trust and raising £1.8m for the Lightbox Gallery and Museum in Woking. In 2010 she took on Lib Dem MP Dan Rogerson in North Cornwall, increasing the Conservative vote share by 4.6 percentage points.
  • Mark Fox. A journalist turned businessman, he began as a lobby correspondent for the Sunday Express and then the Mail on Sunday. He later worked as William Hague’s Assistant Private Secretary in Opposition, before moving into the business world where, among other things, he has worked at the British Venture Capital Association, co-founded Biteback Publishing and is now Chief Executive of the Business Services Association. In 2005 he fought the Great Yarmouth constituency.
  • Cllr Chris Hayward. Extremely active in local government, Hayward is Deputy Leader of Hertfordshire County Council, the Leader of the Opposition on Three Rivers District Council and a common councilman on the City of London Corporation. He worked for much of his career in the events industry, and now runs a property investment firm and a company running tours to Italy and Russia. Like Cllr Cox, he was in the final four in Hertsmere last week.
  • Sarah Heald. An Associate Partner at financial PR firm Finsbury, Heald is a former investment banker at the Bank of Montreal. She volunteers with the Taylor Bennett Foundation, which helps young people from disadvantage backgrounds enter the communications industry, and with Speakers for Schools. Her father is Sir Oliver Heald, MP for North East Hertfordshire.
  • Sarah Macken. Currently Chief Executive of ESCO, the industry body for the electronic sytems sector, Macken previously worked at the British Chambers of Commerce. She writes her own blog on which, among other things, she expresses her support for Grammar Schools. In 2005 she stood against Stephen Timms in East Ham, where her vote suffered due to an unexpectedly high RESPECT entry into the field. In July she made the final four for Louth and Horncastle.
  • Alan Mak. A lawyer by training, Mak is an entrepreneur and investor – his roles include serving as a Non-Executive Board Member for Havas UK, a digital services and advertising firm. He is also a judge and mentor for Wayra UnLtd, which advises and trains technology companies. He sits on the Management Committee of the Enterprise Forum, which seeks to link businesses in to Conservative Party policy development.
  • Michael McManus. McManus served as the transitional Executive Director of the Press Complaints Commission, which has recently been succeeded by IPSO. In the 1990s he wrote speeches for Margaret Thatcher and John Major among others, before spending five years running Edward Heath’s private office. He later ran Vote 2004, a campaign for a referendum on the EU Constitution. More recently, he was a director of Bell Pottinger Public Affairs and wrote Tory Pride and Prejudice: The Conservative Party and Homosexual Law Reform. In 2001 he stood for Watford.
  • Luke Parker. An Associate Partner at IBM, Parker has spent his career in the IT industry. The son of publicans, who ran The Star in Havant, he now lives in South West London with his wife and three children. Parker helped to found the St Richard Reynolds College in Twickenham, and has campaigned in defence of faith schools. He is currently studying towards a post graduate diploma in Strategy & Innovation at Oxford University. Last year he came second in the Twickenham Open Primary, and was longlisted for Croydon South.
  • Laura Trott. Not to be confused with the Olympic cyclist of the same name, Trott is an adviser to the Prime Minister on Education and Family policy. Previously Special Adviser to Francis Maude at the Cabinet Office, she is a former Councillor in Camden. Last year she was also longlisted in Croydon South.
  • Charlotte Vere. Currently Executive Director of the Girls’ Schools Association, Vere has worked in the private sector for 25 years. In 2010, 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. In September she made the final four for South Cambridgeshire.