By Tim Montgomerie
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After a worrying lack of urgency the Conservatives have finally chosen their candidate to fight the Corby and East Northamptonshire by-election… and they've chosen well. Very well.
I know Christine Emmett, a local businesswoman*. She combines the two essential Conservative beliefs of economic seriousness and practical compassion. She'll be a good candidate.
Louise Mensch, whose resignation triggered the by-election, Tweeted: "Conservatives in #CorbyEN have picked a true local girl in Christine Emmett – she'd be a wonderful MP".
Commenting on her selection, Chris Emmett issued this statement:
“I feel truly honoured to have be selected as the Conservative candidate for Corby and East Northants and I relish the chance to fight the upcoming by-election. I want to provide real local leadership, standing up for you and being a strong voice for our community in parliament. Local people want a local candidate who listens to them and knows how to get things done. I have experience across a number of sectors, having raised money for charity, worked with the health service and run my own business. I want to use my understanding and knowledge to represent the people of Corby and East Northants. I will spend the next few weeks and months traveling around the constituency and listening to people like you. I want to know your view, your problems, your concerns so that I can best represent you and serve our community.”
Mrs Emmett will have an uphill struggle to keep the seat in the blue column. Lord Ashcroft's poll from a fortnight ago suggested that a collapse in the LibDem vote had helped Labour to an early lead of 15%. Since then Labour and UKIP have opened high street shops and began intensive leafletting. At least with Chris now adopted the Tory campaign can begin in earnest.
My own instinct is that we should call the by-election early, rather than wait until mid-November to coincide with the police commissioner elections. Let's get it out of the way, before the Tory Conference, and not allow our opponents to enjoy a long campaign where a likely enthusiasm gap will only hurt us. Peter Hoskin weighed the two date choices here.
9.45am: If you don't live in Corby but want to help with the campaign please click here.
* She lives just outside the seat in Rutland. But so does the Labour candidate, Mr Sawford. He lives in Kettering.