Tory candidate for Norwich South announced

Lisa Townsend: Submitted Lisa Townsend: Submitted

Monday, September 1, 2014
7:19 AM

The woman chosen to contest the Norwich South seat as Conservative candidate at next year’s general election, and potentially become the first Tory MP in the constituency since 1987, is a 34-year-old woman from Surrey.

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Lisa Townsend, who lives in Cobham and grew up in Hertfordshire, is house-hunting in Norwich and said she would be living in the city by the time of the election.

She works at the Houses of Parliament for James Morris, Tory MP for Halesowen and Rowley Regis, focusing on mental health policies.

She said she has links to the area in that her stepfather’s family are from Attleborough. He attended Wymondham College, and as a life-long Canaries’ fan is looking forward to coming to some home games with her. And her husband, Ben’s grandparents lived in Norfolk, where his grandfather was mayor of Old Hunstanton and later a Conservative county councillor. Her husband, 36, works in government relations in Brussels. She said: “Ben and I both spent our childhoods visiting the Norfolk coast and Norwich, so it is a very special place for us both.”

Mrs Townsend said she knows she faces a tough challenge to win the seat for the Tories for the first time since the 1980s.

She said: “I am deeply honoured to have been chosen to fight Norwich South for the Conservatives at the next general election.

“I know it’s going to be tough but we are absolutely up for it. I will be concentrating on the things that matter most to the people of Norwich, jobs and growth. Transport is also important.”

Barry Cochrane, chairman of Norwich Conservatives, said Mrs Townsend was an extremely hardworking candidate, and Norwich North Conservative MP Chloe Smith said she was an excellent community campaigner.

To win the seat she will have to beat incumbent Liberal Democrat MP Simon Wright, Labour’s Clive Lewis, the Green’s Lesley Grahame, and UKIP’s Steve Emmens, among others.

At the 2010 general election Mr Wright won after polling just 310 more votes than the incumbent Labour Party MP, Charles Clarke - 13,960 votes to 13,650 votes. The Conservative candidate, Antony Little came third with 10,902 votes, and there was also a large vote for the Green Party. The seat was won with the lowest percentage share of the vote in a constituency in the 2010 election.

Mrs Townsend does not have children, but the announcement comes in the same week that Jess Asato, Labour candidate for Norwich North at the 2015 general election, who is expecting her first child, spoke about standing for parliament being a tall order. “However, I don’t think it should be an unusual decision to decide to start a family and decide to run for parliament,” she said. The Norwich South constituency was created for the 1950 general election, when the two-seat Norwich constituency was divided into Norwich North and Norwich South. Norwich South was by far Labour’s safest seat in Norfolk while Conservative Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister and up until 2005. Although it was lost to the Conservatives in 1983, it was regained by Labour in 1987 and was the only Labour seat in Norfolk until 1997.

Do you think the Conservative candidate for Norwich South should have been someone living in the city? Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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