Underneath the drama gripping the top of the Conservative Party, CCHQ’s candidate selection drive grinds on. This week two seats announced theirs: Portsmouth South and Colne Valley.
Both of these were lost to Labour at the 2017 election, and both by narrow margins (just over 1,500 and under 1,000 votes respectively). They will therefore be absolutely crucial seats if the Party is to have any hope of improving its position next time out, whenever that may be.
Colne Valley has taken what is these days the slightly unusual step of reselecting Jason McCartney (pictured right), who previously sat as the Conservative MP for the seat from 2010 to 2017. This means that they have a candidate with a deep well of local experience and the better part of a decades’ worth of accumulated name recognition, which might be critical if the Party ends up fighting a general election in the near future.
Portsmouth South have likewise chosen a candidate with a pre-existing bank of local credit in the form of Donna Jones, a former leader of Portsmouth City Council. Flick Drummond, who previously held the seat from 2015 to 2017, decided not to re-stand. Jones has pledged to be a ‘voice in Parliament’ for business and the Royal Navy if returned.
Theoretically, the next election isn’t scheduled until 2022, meaning newly-selected candidates should have three years to work the seat. Judging by their selections, Conservative associations aren’t betting on that timescale.