THE final four candidates hoping to be selected to succeed a retiring MP have been selected following a close-fought contest.
Charlotte Vere, Alan Mak, Chris Hayward and Michael McManus were chosen from a list of 12 people who put themselves forward to be chosen as the prospective parliamentary candidate for the Havant seat.
As reported, the Conservatives are to hold a US-style open primary later this month to choose a successor for David Willetts, who has announced he will step down before the General Election.
Almost 100 people put themselves forward. The candidates were whittled down to 12 before the four were chosen following interviews on Saturday.
Mr Hayward said: ‘The coming general election is probably the most important in a generation and with so many people saying they are disillusioned with politics and politicians in general, I want to win back the confidence of the people.’
Ms Vere said: ‘I hope that my background education and mental health, and my experience as a businesswoman will stand me in good stead.
‘But before then, my priority is to meet and to listen to local people.’
Mr McManus said: ‘If I am selected as candidate for Havant and, in due course, elected as its MP, my priority will be simple – to be the best constituency MP possible, doing everything within my power to promote the economic, social and environmental development of Havant and its people.’
Mr Mak said: ‘My priority is to meet and listen to local people and work closely with local councillors.
‘I want to be an energetic local champion and a strong national voice for Havant.
Tim Lines, chairman of Havant Conservatives, said: ‘I was taken aback by the quality, intellect and breadth of these four candidates; I even scored one of them full marks across each of the seven competencies we were assessing.
‘A 19-strong executive committee and four community leaders fired 15 or more questions at each of the 12 long-listed candidates during their individual 30-minute interviews.
‘The four community leaders then each gave their very frank assessments of each candidate’s suitability as a potential MP for Havant, and the 19 executive members then each scored the candidates.
‘There was a tie for the fourth place and a further vote took place to select the fourth candidate.
All electors in the borough – not just Conservative Party members – can hear the prospective parliamentary candidates at the open primary and cast a vote for them.
This will be held at 2pm on Saturday at Oaklands School in Stakes Hill Road, Waterlooville.
Mr Lines added: ‘Free places are still available to anyone who has a vote in next year’s Havant general election.
‘Just email us, or call us by Thursday and leave your name and address and email on the answerphone.’
To vote you must book tickets and take ID with your name and address.
Call (023) 9247 5066 between 9am and 12.30pm, and leave your name, address and email or visit havantconservatives.com/open-primary.
The four candidates
Alan Mak is a lawyer by training.
He is also an entrepreneur and investor. His roles include serving as a non-executive board member for Havas UK, a digital services and advertising firm.
He is also a judge and mentor for Wayra UnLtd, which advises and trains technology companies.
He sits on the management committee of the Enterprise Forum, which seeks to link businesses in to Conservative Party policy development.
Michael McManus served as the transitional executive director of the Press Complaints Commission, which has recently been succeeded by the Independent Press Standards Organisation.
In the 1990s he wrote speeches for Margaret Thatcher and John Major among others, before spending five years running Edward Heath’s private office. He later ran Vote 2004, a campaign for a referendum on the EU Constitution.
More recently he was a director of Bell Pottinger Public Affairs and wrote Tory Pride and Prejudice: The Conservative Party and Homosexual Law Reform. In 2001 he stood for Watford.
Charlotte Vere is the acting general secretary of the Independent Schools Council, executive director of the Girls’ Schools Association, and has worked in the private sector for 25 years.
In 2010, she was the Conservative candidate in Brighton Pavilion, where she increased the Tory vote.
She was finance director of the victorious No2AV campaign in the 2011 referendum, and has campaigned for Conservative policies to be better targeted at women voters. In September she made the final four for South Cambridgeshire.
Councillor Chris Hayward is deputy leader of Hertfordshire County Council.
He is responsible for education in Hertfordshire which oversees some 450 schools.
Cllr Hayward was in the final four in Hertsmere, Hertfordshire, last week.
He is also the leader of the opposition on Three Rivers District Council and a common councilman on the City of London Corporation. He worked extensively in the events industry, and runs a property investment firm and a company running tours to Italy and Russia.