D-Day for Bury St Edmunds Tory hopefuls

Bury Conservatives are selecting their new candidate tonight.

Bury Conservatives are selecting their new candidate tonight. - Credit: citizenside.com

Today is D-Day for the four Conservatives hoping to stand for the Bury St Edmunds constituency at next May’s general election.

Three women and a man have made it on to the shortlist, from which a candidate will be chosen tonight.

None of the four lives in the Bury area at the moment – and none are well known in the area.

James Cleverly is a member of the Greater London Authority and is chairman of its fire and public protection authority.

He is also a Major in the Territorial Army and was based at Bury St Edmunds earlier in his TA career – he has spent some time over the last few weeks visiting the town and talking to local people about what they are looking for from a new MP.


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Zehra Zaidi was brought up in Colchester and went to the town’s college before going on to university and becoming a lawyer. She now works with several charities and social enterprises.

She has spent much of the last six weeks staying in the constituency, meeting people and building up contacts.

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Ms Zaidi plans to live in the constituency at Stowmarket if selected, and then elected MP, allowing easy access to Westminster while establishing her base in Suffolk.

Jo Churchill is a businesswoman and county councillor from Mrs Thatcher’s home town – Grantham in Lincolnshire.

And Helen Whatley from Surrey fought LibDem cabinet minister Ed Davey at the last general election, coming second at Kingston.

Tonight’s meeting starts at 7pm and each candidate will have 30 minutes to make a speech and answer questions from party members.

The result is expected to be announced about 10pm – although the exact time depends on how many ballots it takes to select the winner.

The contest has happened after sitting MP David Ruffley decided not to stand in next May’s general election after weeks of pressure following the revelation that he had accepted a police caution for common assault after a domestic incident in London earlier this year.

Bury St Edmunds is seen as a plum seat for Conservative hopefuls, Mr Ruffley had a majority of 12,380 in 2010.

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