Gosport Tory shortlist lacking a hopeful from town

The shortlist of Tory candidates for Sir Peter Viggers' Gosport seat in Parliament doesn't include anyone from the town, The News can reveal.

The six people the party is considering as a prospective MP come from across the country, but not a single one is from the borough.

This has angered many Gosport Tories, who wanted a home-grown candidate to replace shamed Sir Peter, who is being forced to quit after trying to claim 1,645 on a duck island for his former Titchfield mansion.

One Tory insider claimed that the Conservative Central Office in London took good local candidates off the list.

The insider, who refused to be named, said: 'I would have absolutely have liked someone from Gosport on the list.

'There were some individuals from Gosport who were very competent and would have made excellent MPs, but they haven't been selected.'

One of the six shortlisted is Caroline Dinenage – the daughter of TV presenter Fred Dinenage, who failed in her bid to take the Portsmouth south seat in 2005.

Also in the running are James Bethell, Julia Manning and John Moss, who all competed for seats across the country in 2005, but failed.

The final two are Brighton and Hove councillor Maria Caulfield and Sam Gyimah, a businessman and intellectual who was President of the Oxford Union and lived in Ghana. The candidates are all being interviewed for a second time and two will be cut before tomorrow, when the four final candidates will be chosen.

They will then compete in an 'open primary' in which all Gosport residents will be given the chance to vote for their favourite candidate.

Giles Kenningham, Conservative spokesman, said the Gosport Tory Association 'always has the final say on the shortlist' and added that Caroline Dinenage was a local candidate.

Gosport Councillor Peter Langdon, one of the committee from Gosport that is selecting the candidates, told The News there had been two potential candidates from Gosport.

'I think we would all like to have seen someone from Gosport on the list,' he said.

'But one didn't make the grade and one wasn't selected in the initial sift.'

He added: 'We have been hugely encouraged by the vast cross-section of candidates who applied for the seat and I'm delighted that we have some good strong local people on the shortlist.'


James Bethell: Stood as the Tory candidate for Tooting in 2005, but came second with 30 per cent of the vote. Mr Bethell is part of the NothingBritish.com campaign against the BNP and has recently claimed Nick Griffin needs to be held to account for his racist views.

Caroline Dinenage: Daughter of television presenter Fred Dinenage, Caroline Dinenage made a challenge for the Portsmouth South seat in 2005, but came second with 34 per cent of the vote.

Julia Manning: Is the director of 2020health.org, a web-based, centre-right think tank for health and social care. She has campaigned for people with visual impairment and came third in her bid for the Bristol East seat with 21 per cent of the vote in 2005.

Maria Caulfield: A Tory councillor at Brighton and Hove, Mrs Caulfield works as a nurse, mainly in the field of breast cancer research.

She grew up in London, but has lived in Brighton over recent years.

John Moss: Was the Tory candidate for Hackney South and Shoreditch in 2005 and came third with 14 per cent of the vote. He has previously argued that the best way to reduce abortions is to stop providing them for free on the NHS.

Sam Gyimah: Sam Gyimah was born in the UK and has lived in Ghana. He studied at the University of Oxford. He was chairman of the Bow Group think tank and edited From The Ashes, an anthology of essays on the future of the Conservative Party.

>> Vote in our latest web poll.