Tories still waiting on Lord's successor

Conservatives in north Ipswich and Kesgrave should know who will be fighting their safe seat at the next election by the start of December.

SUFFOLK: Conservatives in north Ipswich and Kesgrave should know who will be fighting their safe seat at the next election by the start of December.

That's when they're due to decide who will take over from Sir Michael Lord as their candidate at the next election.

But leading Tories in the Central Suffolk and North Ipswich seat still don't know who's applied to become their candidate - or even how many people have put their name forward!

Applicants were given just two weeks to send their CVs to Conservative Central Office in London, where they have been sifted before being sent later this week to the local party.

A timetable will be approved by the constituency executive and a selection committee - led by chairman Stephen Britt - will interview around a dozen candidates before whittling them down to a final shortlist of six half of which under party rules must be women.

Local Tory parties are reticent about releasing the names on a shortlist, and in the neighbouring Norfolk South West constituency, which is also in the process of choosing a candidate, applicants have been banned from identifying themselves to the media

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Central Suffolk and North Ipswich is one of the final constituencies to have the major say on who is to be a constituency candidate. From the New Year, with a general election getting nearer, Tory high command will start imposing short-lists on local parties and party leader David Cameron indicated this week that in some cases, only women will be offered to local parties.

Sir Michael, who was 71 on October 17, is currently a deputy speaker of the House of Commons.

The constituency, which is only marginally affected by nationwide boundary changes, stretches from Christchurch Park in central Ipswich to the Norfolk border and includes Eye, Debenham, Wickham Market, Kesgrave, and Great Blakenham.

At the 2005 general election Sir Michael had a majority of 7,856. Labour has already selected Bhavna Joshi and the Liberal Democrat choice is Andrew Aalders-Dunthorne.