Monday, August 4, 2014
After all the controversy of the last few weeks, attention has now turned to the identity of the new candidate who will try to hold the safe Conservative seat of Bury St Edmunds at the next general election.
Advertising the vacancy to those on the list of approved Conservative candidates will not happen until mid-September but hopefuls from across southern England are expected to turn their eyes towards Bury over the next few weeks.
Already there is speculation about who may or may not stand.
The main criterion is that anyone who wishes to stand must be on the Conservative Party’s list of approved candidates.
That means they must have been through a training course and selection board at the party headquarters to ensure they are up to the rigours of a campaign and will not let themselves down.
No one not on the list can be considered as a candidate – but given that the vacancy will not be advertised until September it might be possible for someone not already on the list to get accepted by Conservative HQ before then.
Boris Johnson’s name is mentioned every time a safe Conservative seat becomes vacant – but he can almost certainly be ruled out of the running for Bury St Edmunds.
Mr Johnson has a massive powerbase among Conservatives in London and there will be safe Tory seats becoming vacant within the M25 between now and next May.
Conservatives in Bury St Edmunds know that if someone like Mr Johnson became MP he would continue to spend most of his time in London – and I’ve been told they’re keen to have someone with a solid local presence.
Local councillors Sarah Stamp and Colin Noble have already been touted as possible candidates, although Mrs Stamp insists she isn’t interested and has taken up the important role of association vice chairman (political and campaigning) to organise the selection process and run next year’s general election campaign.
Looking further afield James Tumbridge has applied for many seats in East Anglia and has made the shortlist of many.
Another name that has been mentioned is Alex Deane, who works in the City of London but has East Anglian connections. He previously worked for David Cameron when the Tories were in opposition.
There has been speculation that some in Bury St Edmunds would like to see a woman candidate after the controversy surrounding Mr Ruffley.
However Mrs Stamp insisted that the association would be looking for the best candidate, whether male or female.
She said: “I was a bit surprised when South Suffolk, with a majority of women candidates on its long list did not choose a single one for its shortlist but it is important that we go for the best possible candidate, whether a man or woman.”