With a hat-tip to Michael Crick’s excellent Tomorrow’s MPs account, ConservativeHome can announce Pinder Chauhan has been selected as the Conservative candidate for Bedford at the next general election.
Chauhan is currently a member of West Northamptonshire Council, where she is the Assistant Cabinet Member for Flooding, and where she has served since 2017. She is also the Association Chair for South Northamptonshire Conservatives and the Regional Chairman for the East Midlands Conservative Women’s Organisation branch.
According to Crick, the selection involved the whittling of an initial six names down to three before a final vote. In the grand tradition of party openness, both the association’s members and the six themselves reportedly had no idea who the contenders were before the day itself. Nonetheless, they seemingly included several councillors and previous candidates, such as Ayesha Azad, the leader of the Woking Conservative Group.
Under various guises, the seat of Bedford has an interesting history as something of a bellwether. Won by Labour in 1945, the Tories in 1970, Labour again in 1997, and us again in 2010, it bucked that trend by going red in 2017 by a narrow margin of only 789 votes, and then staying loyal to Jeremy Corbyn and his merry Marxists in 2019, by the even slimmer margin of 145 votes.
Were our fortunes a bit rosier, CCHQ would have one eye on taking this seat. As it is, Electoral Calculus predicts Labour will extend their margin of victory next time from 0.3 per cent to 33.2 per cent, admittedly on new boundaries. We wish Chauhan all the best in proving the psephologists wrong.
Meanwhile, Peter Gibson, the incumbent MP, has been re-adopted as the candidate in Darlington. In 2019 he became the first Conservative to win the seat since 1992. Post-boundary changes, the seat will now contain a few parts of Paul Howell’s constituency of Sedgefield. Gibson also looks set to have an uphill battle, with Electoral Calculus predicting a Labour majority of 22.5 per cent.