Tory MP survives deselection bid

Tory MP Anne Main fought off attempts to deselect her as the party's candidate in her St Albans constituency at the forthcoming General Election.

The St Albans Conservative Association last night kept faith with Ms Main, 52, and voted against deselecting her from standing as Tory candidate for the Hertfordshire seat she won from Labour in 2005.

The vote in London Colney follows allegations that Ms Main's daughter lived rent free at a flat paid for by the tax payer.

Speaking after the meeting a beaming Ms Main told the waiting press: "I'm just absolutely delighted to have had the overwhelming support of the Association meeting and I will continue to work on behalf of the people of St Albans.

"I'm truly grateful for all the messages of support that I've had coming in from people who aren't Association members but are the voters and representatives of St Albans so I'm just really delighted."

Ms Main was forced to fight for her political life as she appeared before around 160 members of the association.

She spoke to them for 20 minutes outlining her actions regarding the expenses allegations she faces and detailing the "good work" she had done for the area.

A huge cheer rang out from within the hall as the results of the vote were returned.

If Ms Main had lost the results could have spelt the end of the back-bencher's political career.

The Tories have a majority of just 1,361 over Labour in the constituency with the Liberal Democrats close behind in third.

The claims against Ms Main are being investigated by parliamentary sleaze watchdog John Lyon.

The Conservative Party's scrutiny panel has deferred ruling on Ms Main's expenses while the probe is ongoing.

The association's constituency chairman Seema Kennedy and her deputy Matthew Peck instigated last night's vote by putting down a motion of no confidence against Ms Main.

During the meeting a dossier was distributed amongst members outlining why they should deselect Ms Main.

But there was a quiet confidence amongst the MP's supporters as they arrived for the meeting earlier in the evening.

Retired company director Trevor Fox summed up their mood when he said the attempts to unseat her were ridiculous.

The 62-year-old from the St Albans said: "She's been a very good MP for the area. She's done a good job.

"At the end of they day a lot of MPs have been naughty, maybe she bent the rules a bit but trying to unseat her is ridiculous."