The latest Conservative-held seat to select is Rushcliffe, where Ken Clarke won on a majority of 8,010 in 2017. In a sense it is only sort-of Conservative-held, bevause Clarke has lost the Whip, but he had long intended to stand down and therefore the need to select was not as much of a surprise as it might be to some other seats.
Eyebrows were raised when the selection proceeded straight from applications to a shortlist, without the normal interview round. Doing things that way effectively dilutes the opportunity for the local executive to have a say, and could correspondingly increase the influence of CCHQ’s candidates operation. The decision has caused some frustration locally, and stirred up fears of a repeat of 2017’s messy centralisation of selections.
Sources at the centre of the party deny a deliberate policy and instead suggest this process was the choice of the association’s leadership. Either way, it’s something to watch lest it become a trend that repeats the mistakes of the last election.
But back to Rushcliffe. The association meets to select its candidate tonight. The four finalists are:
Ruth Edwards: A cyber-security policy specialist, Edwards is a former head of cyber-security at TechUK and has written on the topic for this site. Previously a crime and justice research fellow at Policy Exchange, she is now works for BT, advising governments on cyber-security. She is also a former adviser to the Home Affairs Select Committee and to Crispin Blunt, when he was Shadow Minister for Home Affairs and Counter Terrorism. In 2017, under her maiden name of Davis, she contested Ceredigion.
Cllr Helen Harrison: A District Councillor in East Northamptonshire, Harrison runs her own physiotherapy business, having previously spent much of her career in the NHS. She fought Ashfield in the 2015 General Election and Bolsover in 2017, and serves as Chairman of the Corby and East Northants Conservative Association. She was Chief Executive of the pro-Brexit campaign group Grassroots Out and is involved in the Leave Means Leave campaign. Cllr Harrison has written for ConservativeHome.
Cllr Jane Hunt: Having fought Leicester East in 2010, and the Leicester South by-election in 2011, Cllr Hunt was the Conservative candidate for Nottingham South in 2015 and 2017. She works as Senior Caseworker for Nicky Morgan, having previously worked in the civil service, the charity sector and business. She is also Cabinet Lead Member for Planning, Inward Investment and Tourism Strategy on Charnwood Borough Council.
Jack Tinley. Having contested Hackney South and Shoreditch in 2015, Tinley was the runner-up in the 2017 selection for Nottingham South which was won by Jane Hunt. Instead, he became the 2017 Conservative candidate in Nottingham North. Raised in Nottingham, his career in corporate financial services has taken him to India, the Philippines and the Netherlands.