Being re-selected as the Conservative Candidate in South Shields, to fight in the shortest by-lection campaign since the Second World War, was both a privilege and a steep challenge. After learning of David Milband’s resignation on 31st March, I was clear in my mind that the only thing to do was to put myself forward to stand again in the seat. Having grown up in the town, attended the local comprehensive school and having my family and friends living there, I felt totally committed to both the Association and Party in the North East.
With a mere 21 days from my re-adoption to poll day on 2nd May what lay ahead? In 2010, the Conservatives polled 7,886 votes, which was 21.6% of the vote - representing a 4% swing from 2005 and, to boot, we’d pushed the Liberal Democrats from second down into third place. Let us not forget that was at the height of Clegg-mania! The mood in South Shields during the by-election campaign was immediately different to that of 2010. There seemed to be a more pronounced malignant attitude towards politicians generally and now, to make things worse, David Miliband - himself originally parachuted into the seat - had deserted South Shields with his leadership aspirations in tatters.