The Conservatives appeared to write off their chances in a swathe of North-East constituencies, in a leak on the party’s own website.
Eight seats in the region are described as “non target” for the May general election, suggesting little effort will be put into trying to win them.
Unsurprisingly, the eight include some ultra-safe Labour seats where the Tories are miles behind, including North Durham (12,076 votes), North West Durham (9,773) and Sedgefield (8,696).
In others, the Conservatives were in third place in 2010, so face an even bigger mountain to climb in May, in City of Durham (14,350 votes behind) and Redcar (13,165).
However, the list also includes Darlington, where Labour’s Jenny Chapman finished just 3,388 votes ahead of her Conservative opponent five years ago.
Furthermore, Darlington was a Tory seat until it was lost by Michael Fallon – now the Defence Secretary – at the 1992 general election.
Ms Chapman said: “I am surprised. They need to change their attitude, because this is the kind of high-handed assumption that drives voters away from politics.”
But Peter Cuthbertson, the Conservative candidate in Darlington, said: “I think there’s every chance of victory – I’m picking up enthusiasm for change in Darlington.
“I have seen this list, but I have not had any communication with my party about it, so I don’t know whether it is true.”
Asked what help he was receiving from Conservatives headquarters, Mr Cuthbertson said: “It’s down to local people to muscle their own resources. I’ve got no expectation that they will campaign for me.”
Stockton North is also on the list, although Labour’s majority is only 6,676, as is York Central (6,451), where sitting Labour MP Hugh Bayley is standing down.
Other constituencies are described as “non target” because they have big Tory majorities, including Richmond (23,336) and Thirsk and Malton (11,281).
The blunder occurred when a staff member at Conservative HQ uploaded the photographs of hundreds of Tory candidates, of which 112 were categorised as “non target”.
The mistake was later corrected, but not before the list was recorded by a freelance journalist, who published the information.
Source – Northern Echo, 12 Feb 2015
> The Tories obviously see no reason to break the mould. Yorkshire prospective MP is millionaire estate agent.
A self-made millionaire estate agent has been selected as the Conservative candidate for one of the safest Tory seats in the country.
Kevin Hollinrake, a married father-of-four who is managing director of North Yorkshire-based Hunters, the UK’s fastest-growing independent estate agency network, emerged late last night as the prospective parliamentary candidate for Thirsk and Malton.
He secured more than 50 per cent of the vote, following a tense series of votes by members of Thirsk and Malton Conservative Association at York Racecourse.
It is understood many members of the association said they admired Mr Hollinrake’s political conviction.
Last October, Mr Hollinrake was reported as having reacted frostily to George Osborne’s autumn budget.
A national newspaper quoted him as saying: “The chancellor must be aware that by introducing capital gains tax on foreign-owned properties in the UK, it may risk deterring important foreign investment into the London and the UK housing markets.”
> So I think we can guess where he’s coming from…
The candidates, who included Stockton Borough councillor for Yarm Ben Houchen, Rutland councillor Christine Emmett and East Riding councillor Victoria Aitken, were all given 30 minutes to stake their claim for the candidacy, which included facing a grilling from the association’s members.
The vote follows the sitting MP Anne McIntosh being deselected earlier this year by the association after a long-running feud with its leading members, who had repeatedly tried to oust her.
Association sources said following the battle, during which claims of elitism and sexism damaged its reputation, they determined to find a candidate who had no link with the row.
Miss McIntosh won the seat with an 11,821 majority at the last election.
Previous incumbents of the seat, which stretches from Filey, across the North York Moors, to villages near Northallerton, have all been Conservative.
TV presenter Selina Scott said she had been urged to stand for the seat, and had decided not to challenge to be the Conservative candidate or run as an independent, but may consider other constituencies.
Ahead of the meeting Miss McIntosh said: “I shall continue to represent the people of Thirsk, Malton and Filey with the utmost energy and enthusiasm, being the only woman Conservative MP for the Yorkshire and Humber region, I am extremely proud to do so.”
Source – Northern Echo, 25 July 2014