Conservatives select candidate to contest 'safe' seat

Basingstoke Gazette: Conservatives select candidate to contest 'safe' seat Conservatives select candidate to contest 'safe' seat

THE Conservative candidate who hopes to replace Sir George Young as MP for Andover has been chosen.

And it isn’t Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, as speculation earlier in the year suggested, but his deputy.

Hundreds of Conservative Party members packed into the hall at John Hanson School to choose Kit Malthouse as the Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for North West Hampshire last Thursday evening.

With the party winning more than 58 per cent of the vote at the last election, and retaining control at every election in living memory, Mr Malthouse will rightly have high hopes of winning the seat at next May’s General Election.

One of the first to give his congratulations to Mr Malthouse was Sir George.

He said: “My heartiest congratulations to Kit on winning the nomination.

“He had clearly done a lot of research into the issues in NW Hants and we were all impressed by his achievements in politics in London.

“His speech and his answers to questions were well-informed, relaxed and confident, sprinkled with humour.

“I look forward to working with him in the months ahead and to introducing him to the many people I have been working with over the past 18 years.”

Mr Malthouse stormed to victory at the selection hustings, winning against three other candidates in the first round of voting – meaning he was the first choice for more than half the activists.

Mr Malthouse is married to a Canadian national, Juliana, who comes from Ontario, and they have a twin boy and girl. He grew up in Liverpool and is a graduate of Newcastle University. He supports Liverpool FC.

He will be defending a majority in excess of 18,500.

Mr Malthouse has worked with Boris Johnson since 2008.

He said: “One thing I have learned from him is the power of optimism.

“He is an optimistic person who is optimistic about people and the country, and that is powerful. I have found that people like him because he says what he means, even if that is not always palatable, and because of that people believe that he is genuine.”

Mr Malthouse comes from a small business background, and said he was impressed by the number of small businesses operating in the area. He said he would be talking to people involved in them.

He also said he was keen to make sure Andover town centre is a vibrant place to visit, and would be meeting with the town centre manager and Chantry Centre representatives.

The candidate selection was chaired by Times columnist and former Conservative MP Matthew Parris. Mr Parris, who has chaired a dozen similar selection contests, said: “There were four very strong candidates, each of whom would have made good Members of Parliament, but Kit gave a great performance and I think it was his sense of humour that made an impact.”

The candidates all paid tribute to the outgoing MP.

Sir George said: “Listening to the tributes to me from the four candidates was a bit like being at one’s own funeral!”

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