Tories select Euro East election seven

CONSERVATIVES in the East of England have chosen the seven candidates to fight next year's elections to the European Parliament and are confident that they will win at least four win seats to Brussels and Strasbourg.

Graham Dines

CONSERVATIVES in the East of England have chosen the seven candidates to fight next year's elections to the European Parliament and are confident that they will win at least four win seats to Brussels and Strasbourg.

Heading the list is Geoffrey Van Orden, a retired Army brigadier from Suffolk who has been an MEP since 1999. Second is Robert Sturdy, a farmer who lives near Newmarket, who was first elected to the European Parliament in 14 years' ago.

Elections to Europe are conducted using the list system of proportional representation - voters choose a political party and seats are allocated according to the percentage of the vote until seven people are elected.

Mr Van Orden said after the result of the ballot of Tory members in the six counties of the East of England - Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire - was declared in Newmarket: “It is an honour to once again head our list.

“I am confident that the Conservatives will poll enough votes to get four MEPs elected in this region. It may be that we have a chance of winning a fifth seat.”

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With Christopher Beazley of Hertfordshire not seeking re-election, the third place on the Tory list has gone to Vicky Ford, a former investment banker who is the finance and resources portfolio holder on South Cambridgeshire district council.

Married with three children, her husband Hugo is a consultant in cancer medicine at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge and the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds.

In fourth place is John Flack from Stebbing near Great Dunmow in Essex, who is a director of the commercial property investment company he started in 1983.

The other three slots are filled by Jonathan Morgan, the former chairman of Ipswich Conservatives, Claire Strong who is a councillor in North Hertfordshire, and Clare Whelan, who works for the left-leaning Tory Reform Group and is an unpaid adviser to former Chancellor of the Exchequer Kenneth Clarke and serves as a councillor on the London borough of Lambeth.

The European elections will be held in June 2009. MEPs are elected for five years - in 2004, the Tories won three seats, the UK Independence Party two, and Labour and the Liberal Democrats one each.

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