Poppy Simister-Thomas has been selected as the Conservative candidate for South Norfolk. According to Electoral Calculus, it contains 65.2 per cent of the current South Norfolk constituency, and 16.4 per cent of the current Mid Norfolk seat. The current MP is Richard Bacon, who has served since 2001, but was de-selected earlier this year.
Having written one or two articles now suggesting that those being selected are ‘local champions’ and ‘favourite sons’ – meaning long-standing members of the constituency, or those who could emphasise their local connections, and overwhelmingly male – Simister-Thomas is a refreshing exception, and a step back in time.
Having studied Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Oxford, Simister-Thomas worked in Switzerland in oil markets, and then, since 2019, for McKinsey. She was a council candidate in Mapesbury in 2018, chaired the Cambridge Conservative Association from 2020 to 2022, and has been the Deputy Chairman of the Eastern Region Conservative Women’s Organisation since last March.
From a long-list that included Jamie Wallis – the current MP for Bridgend – joining Simister-Thomas in the final three were Xingang Wang and Ali Azeem. Wang, who grew up in China, is a consultant and investment banker, stood in Hammersmith in 2016, and Manchester Central in 2015 and 2017. Azeem is a former advisor to George Osborne who has worked for Ipsos for over five years.
According to a local Conservative source, there was not a “local favourite” going into the selection. Simister-Thomas has some links to the area, as her husband has worked as a teacher in Norwich, with ties across the county. There was a sense that local members wanted someone who both “cares about the constituency” but could be “impressive on the national stage”.
Despite the circumstances with Bacon, the selection was “not acrimonious” and there was a palpable sense that the association “wanted to move on”. Although the previous seat could be considered safe, Electoral Calculus currently puts Labour ahead. ConservativeHome wishes Simister-Thomas the best of luck.