Local candidates in running to succeed MP

Constituency Tories have broken the mould and short-listed two local candidates in the battle to succeed John Gummer in one of the party's safest seats.

Graham Dines

Constituency Tories have broken the mould and short-listed two local candidates in the battle to succeed John Gummer in one of the party's safest seats.

Following the upset caused by the decision of Central Suffolk & North Ipswich and West Suffolk Tories to ignore people in their search for new MPs, the Coastal party is giving an opportunity to local people to compete with four outsiders from David Cameron's gold list of candidates.

Hugo de Burgh, who lives in Woodbridge, is director of the China Media Centre and professor of journalism at the University of Westminster. He is honorary professor of journalism at Shandong University and has written a book on investigative journalism.


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The other candidate with local connections is Sophie Stanbrook, who is running the election campaign of Mr Gummer's son Ben in the Ipswich constituency.

Coastal Tories have also short-listed Kay Mason, a businesswoman and farmer from Norfolk who fought Norwich North at the 2005 General Election;

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Tim Clark, a Lincolnshire head teacher who was in the final six for Central Suffolk & North Ipswich; Therese Coffey, a chartered accountant from Hampshire who was finance director for Mars UK and now works for the BBC, and Nadhim Zahawi, the corporate director of the YouGov polling organisation.

The candidates were shortlisted by a delegation of constituency officers at a meeting at Conservative Central Office yesterday with the party's national chairman Eric Pickles.

Mr Gummer announced just before New Year that he was giving up after 31 years as the constituency's MP to concentrate full-time on his environmental work. He had a majority of 9,685 over Labour at the 2005 General Election.

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have opted for local candidates. Labour's Adam Leeder said: “I grew up in Suffolk Coastal, using Suffolk Coastal's services. I think that gives me the edge over candidates who come from outside the constituency.

“I know that second homes, high value jobs for young people and stopping coastal erosion are local priorities - a candidate from outside simply isn't going to know this instinctively.”

“That's not to say you can't have good candidates who aren't local - of course you can. But that candidate would have to have exceptional skills to outweigh the knowledge that comes from growing up in an area.”

The Liberal Democrats have chosen Daisy Cooper, who was brought up in Walberswick and educated in schools in Southwold, Halesworth and Framlingham.

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