Tories finalise line-up for Duchy election candidates
The Conservative Party has picked all its would-be MPs in Cornwall to fight the general election in almost two years' time.
Cornwall councillor and Wadebridge postman Scott Mann has been selected by activists to stand for the North Cornwall seat in 2015, it was confirmed yesterday.
Mr Mann, who will attempt to oust Liberal Democrat Dan Rogerson, is the last of the three Tory prospective parliamentary candidates to be announced in the Duchy.
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He beat businesswoman Sian Flynn, who was the party's parliamentary candidate in the same constituency in 2010, and Jane Leslie, mother of Bristol Tory MP, Charlotte Leslie, in the ballot at Wadebridge town hall.
Businessman Derek Thomas will again stand for the Tories in St Ives against Andrew George after slashing the Lib Dem incumbent's majority in 2010.
The Conservative association in St Austell and Newquay has chosen Stephen Double, business owner and councillor, to fight Stephen Gilbert for the seat.
All three Cornwall constituencies held by the Lib Dems are on the list of 40 seats the party is targeting to secure an overall majority in the Commons.
Sarah Newton, a Cornwall MP and Conservative deputy chairman, who is overseeing the candidate selection process nationally, said the party has dropped its controversial "A-list" to champion minority candidates, and signalled the emphasis in the Westcountry will favour people with local credentials.
The Tories hold the three remaining seats in Cornwall: Mrs Newton in Truro and Falmouth, Camborne and Redruth's George Eustice and Sheryll Murray in South East Cornwall. Candidates for the four non-Tory seats in Devon, and the rest of the country, are expected to be announced by April.
The Liberal Democrats, Labour and smaller parties are yet to reveal their 2015 line-up in the Westcountry.
Mrs Newton, who was among the 2010 intake, is a key member of the Conservative Party general election campaign team.
She said the principles of the "A-list" of between 100 and 150 candidates, which favoured women and ethnic minority MPs for selection, did "a really good job" but is now embedded in the party.
She added: "The 2010 intake clearly are more diverse: more ethnic minorities, more women, more people from parts of the country that didn't used to have Conservatives – like Cornwall, like the North East, like parts of the Midlands.
"So it did that job, so we don't need to do that anymore. Our activists, our associations (who select candidates) – they get it."
The first word she says when asked what kind of candidate they are looking for in the Westcountry is "local".
"And if they are not local, they can really empathise with the issues," Mrs Newton went on.
"The way of life, the challenges, the strengths of our region. And they're really committed to that area."
A quarter of the Conservative target seats are in the South West.