Constituency officials tight lipped about possible successor to Christopher Fraser

THE South West Norfolk Conservative Association was keeping tight-lipped today about candidates in the running to be the next parliamentary candidate for the constituency.While the hopefuls have been told not to speak to the press during the selection pr

THE South West Norfolk Conservative Association was keeping tight-lipped today about candidates in the running to be the next parliamentary candidate for the constituency.

While the hopefuls have been told not to speak to the press during the selection process we understand from sources close to Westminster that there were six Tory members shortlisted from the 160 applicants interviewed by the Executive Council in Swaffham .

Speculation around the corridors of power has brought the names of two men and four women hopefuls to the fore for the seat which will be vacated by current MP Christopher Fraser at the next election.

Research has revealed these candidates come from a variety of backgrounds but the name which stands out as having the strongest Norfolk links appears to be James Tumbridge who stood against Labour's Dr Ian Gibson for the Norwich North seat at the last election.


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Born and raised in Banham, near Diss, the London-based barrister who was educated in Banham and Norwich and still keeps a house in the city, has openly admitted his interest in the job in the past calling it a "rare opportunity".

The suggested shortlist also consists of:

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David Rutley, a former special adviser to the Treasury and Conservative candidate for St Albans in the 1997 general election. His name is also linked to the Macclesfield seat which becomes vacant at the next election when Sir Nicholas Winterton steps down.

Therese Coffey, a Wigan-born former director for Mars Drinks UK and Tory candidate in the South East MEP election in June. Elizabeth Truss, brought up in Leeds and currently living in Greenwich as deputy director of think tank Reform. In 2005 she fought the Calder Valley seat in Yorkshire, and before that she stood for Hemsworth in 2001.

Christine Emmett, grew up in Liverpool and has carved out an impressive business career. Her newly updated website cites her experience as buyer for the Marks and Spencer store expansion plan, managing �450 million of procurement for the Channel Tunnel project and a range of public service work including a role as Non-Executive Director of University Hospitals in Leicester. For the Tory party she has worked for John Redwood's economic competitiveness policy group and advised Chris Grayling in his role as shadow transport secretary.

Clare Whelan, a conservative councillor for Thurlow Park ward in the London borough of Lambeth and who was also a candidate for the MEP elections in the eastern region.

The party would not confirm or deny any of the names and agent Ian Sherwood said : "Care and confidentiality for applicants for the position of PPC for South West Norfolk is taken very seriously by the Association and we will not be giving out the names of applicants at any stage during the process."

But he confirmed they would be going through interviews with the Executive Council, a body of representatives from every branch and committee within the constituency

He said: "Each candidate will give a presentation lasting five minutes followed by 20 minutes of questions from the floor. Then a vote will be taken how many to take through to the next stage on October 24.

"This will be an open meeting for all qualified party members to attend to hear the candidates speak before we hold a ballot to pick the final candidate. He or she has to receive more than 50 percent of the vote.

"The successful candidate will be announced on that day.

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