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All women miss out in bid to be South Suffolk’s Conservative candidate

PUBLISHED: 12:19 07 July 2014 | UPDATED: 14:17 07 July 2014

MP Tim Yeo.

MP Tim Yeo.

Eyebrows have been raised among Suffolk Conservatives after the top brass at the South Suffolk association failed to choose any of the seven women in the running to fight the seat at the next election.

Eyebrows have been raised among Suffolk Conservatives after the top brass at the South Suffolk association failed to choose any of the seven women in the running to fight the seat at the next election.

Babergh councillor James Cartlidge, former Deutsche Bank managing director Jeremy Quin and Norfolk-raised barrister James Tumbrdige were chosen by the party executive out of a pool of 11 to face the whole party at a special interview stage selection meeting on Friday.

More than 100 people applied to replace Tim Yeo as the Conservative candidate for South Suffolk at the next general election, and the long list made up of seven women and four men faced the executive on Saturday.

The 22-strong South Suffolk Conservative Association executive held a question and answer and presentation session on Saturday and the shortlist will face all the fully paid-up members of the association at the selection meeting.

They scored the three men most highly, but Dr Rachel Joyce was also picked as a reserve.

Suffolk Conservatives, who did not want to be named, have raised concerns about the message it sends and questioned why female candidates were overlooked.

The successful candidate will have almost 10 months to get to know the constituency in the run-up to the General Election in May next year.

Mr Yeo was not given the backing of his party association in a ballot after the constituency executive had earlier refused to automatically re-select him over concerns about his age and the amount of time he was seen to be spending in the constituency.

South Suffolk is a sought after seat for aspiring MPs. Mr Yeo won a majority of 8,700 over the Liberal Democrats at the 2010 General Election.

It is understood that the executive were not allowed to confer as they individually ranked the candidates, which have all been approved by Conservative Central Office.

Norfolk-raised barrister Mr Tumbridge stood unsuccessfully in Norwich North in 2005 and also came second in the fight to be the Conservative candidate for the South West Norfolk in the 2010 election.

He lost out to education minister Elizabeth Truss, who was embroiled in the so-called “Turnip Taliban” scandal, when some members of the party tried to de-select her following a row over an affair with an MP.

Mr Quin, who was seconded to the Treasury in 2008 to help formulate the UK response to the banking crisis, a managing director of Deutsche Bank.

Mr Cartlidge lives in Assington, near Sudbury, who has run his own company Share to Buy for 10 years. He stood in Lewisham Deptford, a safe Labour seat, in the 2005 general election.

Conservative MP Therese Coffey, who was selected to stand in John Gummer’s Suffolk Coastal seat, said: “The process is different to when I was selected. “They score after every candidate deliberately to try and stop conferring. I assume this reflects the genuine view of the executive on the different competencies. They are all rated on competencies. I don’t know the reasons they particularly came out as men.”

A statement from South Suffolk said: “On Saturday 5th July, the Executive Council (22 members) of the Association met and short listed the following three candidates who will be interviewed at a Special General Meeting of Association on Friday 11th July.

“The three candidates to be interviewed are James Cartlidge, Jeremy Quin, James Tumbridge.”

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