Tory candidate chosen to replace veteran MP in election battle
With just over 100 days to the General Election, Wendy Morton is going to have to work quickly to become an MP.
But the new Tory candidate for Aldridge-Brownhills has a strong head start as she is fighting for what has been considered a safe Conservative seat throughout the 36 years that Sir Richard Shepherd has been representing it.
The farmer's daughter, born in the Yorkshire Dales, was chosen by party members as the new candidate at a behind closed doors meeting on Thursday night.
The selection had been delayed since before Christmas because of party infighting.
Nick Timothy, a special adviser to Home Secretary Theresa May, had been shortlisted by the Aldridge-Brownhills Conservative Association. But he was removed by party officials, authorised by Prime Minister David Cameron, because he had failed to do telephone canvassing in the Rochester and Strood by-election. He claimed a code of conduct for SpAds stopped him from doing so.
Mrs Morton beat three other shortlisted candidates, including Walsall councillor Marco Longhi, to be chosen.
It is not the first time Mrs Morton has stood for Parliament.
She stood for the Tories in Newcastle Central in 2005, where she finished third, and in 2010, when she contested Tynemouth in the North East and finished second.
Her first real job was as an Executive Officer in HM Diplomatic Service in London.
On her website she said: "When my husband, a chief petty officer, left the Royal Navy, we set up an electronics and manufacturing business with the very welcome help of the £40 a week Enterprise Allowance.
"More than 20 years later, we are still a family focused business. We design and manufacture electronic products in the heart of Yorkshire which we sell to farmers all over the UK, as well as to Europe, and New Zealand."
Mrs Morton is also vice chairman of the Conservative party overseeing 'social action'.
Councillor Longhi said: "I wish everybody well who chose to vote a different way and I thank everyone who voted for me.
"I am going to focus on what I have been doing for the last 16 years, which is representing the people of Pelsall. Had I won the selection and the election I would have been able to do so on a larger scale, representing the people of Aldridge-Brownhills."
Sir Richard revealed last year he would be standing down because he thought he would be too old by the end of his next five year term, when he would be 77.
He said: "We are all very pleased that Wendy has been selected and we are all now looking forward to May."
Sir Richard was knighted last year but is known as one of the Tories' most rebellious MPs – something that once saw him stripped of the Tory whip in the 1990s for his stance on the European Union. Official figures say he has voted against his own party more than one in 10 times, slightly more than the ardent Eurosceptic Sir Bill Cash, MP for Stone.
Aldridge-Brownhills had a Tory majority of 15,256 votes at the 2010 election.
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