The first cut is the kindest for Michael Portillo

Ex-Defence Secretary makes the Kensington and Chelsea shortlist
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Indy Politics

Former Defence Secretary Michael Portillo was today named as one of six candidates on a shortlist for the safe Conservative seat of Kensington and Chelsea.

Former Defence Secretary Michael Portillo was today named as one of six candidates on a shortlist for the safe Conservative seat of Kensington and Chelsea.

Mr Portillo beat off other right-wingers in a group of 19 Tory hopefuls who battled it out over the weekend to make it into the final half-dozen competing for the seat left vacant by the death of Alan Clark.

Announcing the result, chairman of the Kensington and Chelsea Conservative Association Nick Paget-Brown, sniped at New Labour's selection polucy saying, 'It is and will be an open and democratic process and will ensure that every member of the Conservative Party in Kensington and Chelsea has an equal vote on the candidate of their choice.

'This is in stark contrast to the Labour Party.'

The other four candidate on the shortlist are: Pamela Chesters, the Conservative leader on Camden Council; former Shrewsbury and Atcham MP Derek Conway, a former whip in John Majorÿs government; Mark Francois, a 34-year-old Basildon councillor; and local councillor Warwick Lightfoot.

Former Treasury Minister Phillip Oppenheim, who lost his Amber Valley seat in the last election, was not amongst the final six despite being widely tipped as a front-runner.

Also missing although expected to be among the favourites were Mary Macleod, a management consultant who has been advising the Royal Family on their future role in Scotland, and former Press Secretary to John Major, Sheila Gunn.

On Tuesday, the shortlisted six will appear before the 150-strong local party executive which will choose four to go before all constituency party members for a final ballot on November 2. The by-election is expected to take place before Christmas.

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