Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Blaenau Gwent to Bracknell

Phillip Lee may have lost his deposit in Blaenau Gwent but the Home Counties doctor looks as if he'll become the second loser from the 2005 general election there to end up in Parliament.

Maggie Jones, who lost the seat for Labour after being chosen from an all-women shortlist, is already here, sitting as Baroness Jones of Whitchurch.

Dr Lee looks to be heading for the green rather than red benches as he's been chosen to replace Andrew MacKay as the Conservative candidate in Bracknell, Berkshire. Mr MacKay is standing down after one or two awkward questions were raised about his use of the expenses regime.

Phillip Lee may have polled only 816 votes during his foray into Welsh politics but he was rather more visible than some Conservative candidates who have fought and lost in the Valleys.

During the campaign, David Blunkett dropped in on Tredegar, to support Maggie Jones, only to find himself greeted by a surprising number of Tory activists and placards, orchestrated by Dr Lee in an event that scored high marks for mischief and cheek.

Playing the "my great-grandfather was a coal miner in Gorseinon" card for all it is worth he did succeed in winding up a few Labour activists already wound up by the split over all-women shortlists.

The voters themselves didn't thank him for it, but he got noticed in Tory circles and made it onto David Cameron's A-list of priority candidates even if it took him three years to get selected for a safe seat.

Gender apart, is the sort of candidate the Tories have been looking for as they try to persuade voters that the party has changed - someone who works in public services, is relatively young and gives the impression of being human.

A glance at his website reveals a fully paid-up Cameroon, right down to the smooth PR choice of photographs with or without tie.

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