You probably won't have heard of them ... but they're the Tory future

Amol Rajan and Nigel Morris profile some of the leading young Conservative election candidates gathering at the party's spring conference in Cheltenham
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Indy Politics

Mel Stride, 48

SELECTED FOR Central devon (notional Con majority of 2,338)*

The grammar-school boy with three daughters spends his spare time as a tourist guide. Was a contemporary of William Hague at Oxford and president of the Oxford Union. Spent two decades working as a social entrepreneur. His interest in social justice plays well with his senior colleagues in the party.

Priti Patel, 36

SELECTED FOR WITHAM (notional Con majority of 7,241)*

Straight-talking Middlesex girl, her flirtatious relationship with the media began as James Goldsmith's Referendum Party spin-doctor, then on William Hague's press operation. Seems set to become the Tories' first Asian woman MP. Eurosceptic and in favour of capital punishment.

Jack Lopresti, 39


(notional Con majority of 653)*

Father of three who has just returned from Afghanistan, where he served with 29 Commando in Helmand. Worked in the family ice-cream business, then in financial services and property. A self-confessed military history geek, Tory insiders hope he will add weight on defence issues to the backbenches.

Damian Collins, 35

SELECTED FOR Folkestone & Hythe

(Con majority of 12,446)

Acquired powerful friends working in advertising at M&C Saatchi and Lexington Communications. He was taught by historian Niall Ferguson at Oxford before working for the Conservative research department. Highly regarded by Tory central office.

Chloe Smith, 26


(Lab majority of 5,459)

The youngest female Tory candidate. A management consultant, she is seen here on a charity climb of Kilimanjaro. Tough battle to win seat, but a job at Tory headquarters could follow failure.

Alex Story, 31


(Lab majority of 5,154)

Grew up in Fontainebleau, France, and rowed for Great Britain in the 1996 Olympics. Converted from Liberal to Tory after meeting Cuban athletes desperate to flee Havana.

Louise Bagshawe, 37

CORBY (Lab majority of 1,517)

The "chick-lit" author is about to tour Australia and New Zealand. Likely to win the Northamptonshire seat. The Oxford-educated mother-of-three flirted with New Labour but rejoined the Tories in 1997. Will be "flabbergasted" if the Tories don't win. Says Cameron must do some "very austere things" and he "is not going to be able to wave a magic wand and cure everything in a year".

Nick Boles, 44

SELECTED FOR grantham & stamford (Con majority of 6,636)

A true-blue constituency. Boles withdrew as a possible London mayoral candidate last year after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. He believes a hung Parliament is "quite likely" after the election: "Things are fairly volatile. People are mightily angry with the Government and the mess it has got us into but that doesn't mean they think we're wonderful." A former director of the Policy Exchange think-tank, he has impeccable contacts in the party and is odds-on to be a minister

Esther McVey, 40


(notional Con majority of 283)*

The former GMTV presenter and law graduate quit television to focus on politics. She has been a friend of Kate McCann, mother of Madeleine, since their student days and briefly dated the Tory frontbencher Ed Vaizey.

Shaun Bailey, 38


(notional Lab of majority 5,646)*

Youth worker and Cameron era poster-boy. Story well-rehearsed: brought up on a west London estate by a single mother, who sent him to the Army Cadet Force. Pushes the Tories' "broken society" mantra.