Selecting a candidate is a nightmare for any Association, especially for a by-election. Bromley & Chislehurst are not to be envied. In the coming few days they will have to make their choice. Do they pick a local candidate? Do they pick a high flier? Do they pick someone very much in the image of Eric Forth? How much notice do they take of guidance from CCHQ? I am not seeking to either guide or influence their choice, but I can, for what it's worth, offer my advice. And my advice is what it would be for any high profile by-election - and that is to play safe. If there is a good local candidate who can handle the media exposure of a by-election campaign then that's probably the safest bet - but I am not sure that person exists. Bob Neill has been touted, along with Nicholas Bennett. But Nick Bennett (as a former MP) was removed from the Candidates List last year and Bob Neill may be too committed to the GLA Group. There is a very good female local candidate called Jill Andrews but I don't know whether she is either still on the official list or would be interested. I have looked through the names on the 'A' List on ConservativeHome and I keep coming back to two names. Tim Collins and Laura Sandys. In this kind of situation I think Tim could be a good bet. He will be able to deal with the media, is combative as well as being tenacious. Laura is also media savvy, has a sunny personality and would be able to withstand the pressures of a by-election. No Conservative should be complacent about this by-election. It's not only the LibDems who will be soliciting Conservative votes. There will be a strong UKIP presence, no doubt the BNP will stand, the English Democrats will be fielding a candidate and there is likely to be a ridiculous egomaniac standing as an independent Conservative. I only live 15 miles away so I'm intending to spend as much time as possible on the streets of Bromley & Chislehurst. I hope any Conservative reading this will be joining me!
UPDATE: When I talked about "a ridiculous egomaniac standing as an independent Conservative" I wasn't talking about THIS man, believe it or not!