A blind barrister, MPs’ chief of staff and four stunning women shortlisted by Cambridge Conservatives

I am planning to be in Yorkshire this weekend and hugely disappointed that I will miss the Conservative selection for the Cambridge parliamentary candidate which ConservativeHome has highlighted.

imageThese are the six hopeful candidates who have been shortlisted and it imagewill be decided by an Open Primary. Any Cambridge resident wanting to attend the meeting must register through this link at the association’s website before midnight this Wednesday, 9th December.

Eve Conway: (right) Eve is a journalist and broadcaster with local BBC who is currently President of Redbridge Rotary Club and actively involved in voluntary and community work and local campaigning.

Sarah El-Neil: (left) Sarah is a jazz and blues singer and consultant paediatrician, as well as being a Cambridge resident and Chairman of Cambridge City Conservatives. Sarah has campaigned in the city council elections and also has links with the university.

imageChamali Fernando: (left) Chamali is a barrister and former Cambridge imageresident who made national headlines as the youngest candidate to be shortlisted by a mainstream political party for the role of Mayor of London. Her single greatest impact in her voluntary activities has been in her frontline role for the Coalition for an International Environmental Court.

Jane Gould: (right) Jane is a savvy businesswoman who has lived and worked in and around Cambridge for over 20 years. As Director of Sales, she helped to set up Global Inkjet Systems, part of Cambridge’s internationally renowned Industrial Inkjet cluster. Jane now focuses 100% on voluntary work and political activity.

Mark Higgins: (right) Mark is an Oxford educated barrister from North London who has been completely blind imagesince birth. He is committed to social justice and vows to “jealously guard the reputation of Cambridge as an academic powerhouse and technological pioneer, press for immediate resolution of the student finance difficulties, advocate a reversal of the closure of special schools and work closely with imagelocal communities.”

Nick Hillman: (left) Nick has launched a website to promote his bid for candidacy. Nick is a former Cambridge history teacher who now works as Chief of Staff to a senior MP specialising in university policy. He has also worked for pension companies. Nick says it is because Cambridge is a favourite place for him and his wife that they held their wedding reception here earlier this year, and plan to move here later this month.

I never cease to  be amazed by the wealth of talent who want to become Conservative MPs. Well done to Cambridge Conservatives for short listing such a terrific and diverse bunch.

UPDATE: Congratulations to Nick on being selected. I met him last night over mulled wine and know he will be outstanding. He is certainly determined to win, and confident it can be achieved with hard work. This is blogger Richard Taylor’s report from the open primary. He does a great job in giving fair and accurate reports of political events in Cambridge which our local press cannot be bothered to turn out to.

Here is The Guardian’s Michael White’s version of events who chaired the proceedings.


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  2. Mark Senior

    It seems that all of around 60 people turned up for this open primary . This sums up both the strength of the Conservative party in Cambridge and the interest in it by the voters of Cambridge .

  3. Richard, that’s very generous of you, and I’m sure it’s much appreciated. Congratulations too on the birth of your new baby.

  4. Congratulation to Nick Hillman as my successor as the PPC. I look forward to helping him win the seat and hope our friends from countryside will come to the city to secure the right result for Cambridge.

  5. They look a good cast. They need to ensure they put in all they effort they can to be elected.

  6. Mark Senior

    Cambridge CC wards won by each party earlier this year

    Libdems 11 Labour 2 Greens 1 Conservatives ………………….. ZERO

    Says it all .

  7. Ellee, find me someone who says they were and that’s great, but I don’t think we should presume it to be the case just because it’s a possibility! The Tories are notoriously inactive in Cambridge – certainly if they did campaign more they could do well, but it’s just not going to happen until they start putting in some legwork.

  8. Mark Senior

    Decimate – from the punishment given out to Roman legions when they had failed in battle – to reduce by 1/10th .
    ergo , the Greens on your definition will have not much effect on the LibDem majority here .

  9. Nich, the writing on the wall is not at all transparent regarding this election. Tony Juniper is respected as a Green candidate and could well decimate the Lib Dem vote.

    John, how do you know Conservatives were not out campaigning in 5 wards this weekend?

  10. Also, since Cambridge Tories are active in roughly 2 wards in the city (and have 1 councillor!), it would appear that none of these candidates have been particularly assiduous in doing grassroots campaigning in the city. Perhaps that would be a wise thing to start doing if they ever hope to win it back? The city Labour Party was canvassing in at least 4 wards this weekend alone!

  11. Well none of them stand a snowball in hell’s chance of getting elected, so let’s not worry about it too much. Noone with much in the way of frontline public or private sector experience in ordinary (low wage) jobs either. Mr Higgins has obviously not researched the state of special schools in Cambridge – we have two brand new ones, the result of the merger of 4 previous schools, with excellent facilities and full rolls, and not remotely under threat of closure.

  12. Fernando was an anonymous person full of her wn self importance in the Lib Dems. She and her borther left the party, as I read it, in a huff, after doign very poorly in internal party elections, and when they left most people said “who”.

    I’d say well done if you hang on to third place in Cambridge.

  13. David Blake

    You don’t say that Chamali Fernando was, until a while ago, a Liberal Democrat.

  14. disaffected

    Looks like the usual lot of PC candidates put forward to attract the university lot , pathetic .

  15. Frugal Dougal, they certainly look impressive, I agree.

  16. Whoever gets in, it looks like the PPC for Cambridge is going to be a good’un!

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