About 300 local Tories have chosen Damian Collins for Folkestone & Hythe to replace Michael Howard as the Conservative candidate.
Laura Sandys led at the executive stage but was eliminated first last night. Harriet Baldwin gave a very impressive performance but "her undoing", according to my source, "was that she couldn't commit to move to the area full time initially - she offered 3 days a week, which many members saw as an open invitation to the Lib Dems to depict her as a Londoner visiting the constituency to get votes rather then because she cared". Harriet now moves on to the final selection at West Worcestershire.
ConservativeHome congratulates Damian - an A-lister and employee of M&C Saatchi. Thanks to the hard work of Michael Howard over recent years - in turning the tide on the LibDem threat in F&H - Damian inherits one of the party's safest seats.
This just in from the Bow Group (11am, 14 July):
"One ex-Bow Group Officer hands over to another in Folkestone:
Michael Howard MP ex Chairman in 1970 hands over to Damian Collins Political Officer (2003). This continues a long tradition of Bow Group officers getting into parliament. There have been about 50 Bow Group officers who have made it into parliament in the last 30 years including, Justine Greening, Tobias Ellwood, John Penrose, Peter Lilley, Cheryl Gillian, Lord Howe, Lord Lamont, Lord Heseltine. The recent crop of Bow Group officers now being tipped for the future include: Sam Gyimah (A-lister), Kwasi Kwarteng, Chris Philp and Charlotte Leslie."