James Bellis has been selected by the Vauxhall Conservative Party to contest the safe Labour seat against Kate Hoey, the current MP for the constituency. Hoey has been the MP for Vauxhall for 25 years, making the constituency a firm Labour seat.
The ward map for Vauxhall covers parts of Brixton, bordering Brixton Road down to Coldharbour Lane and The Ritzy, and then out towards Ferndale and Clapham.
Bellis describes himself as a ‘professional economist’ by trade – which might just come in handy, given the growing gap between affluence and poverty in the constituency that he wants to represent.
He is local to the Vauxhall area, having lived in the north of the borough for the past 15 years.
Speaking about his selection, Bellis commented:
“It is a massive privilege to be selected in my home patch to represent the Conservative Party in next year’s election. Over the last fifteen years I have lived right across the constituency and I look forward over the next eight months to meeting as many people in the constituency as possible
I passionately believe that the Conservative Party has the right ideas to take Vauxhall, and the whole country, forward. While much progress has been made over the last four years, more remains to be done to secure the economic recovery.
Next year, voters will have a clear choice between continuing that recovery with a Conservative Government, or turning the clock back with a Labour Party which will spend, tax and borrow more.”
This isn’t the first time that Bellis has put himself up for election. He was one of the Tory candidates standing for election in Prince’s ward in the Lambeth Council local elections in May 2014. Bellis came fifth in the election, receiving 705 votes – 6% of the total votes cast.
In 2010 Bellis also fancied his chances of becoming a Tory Cllr in Prince’s ward. This time he finished 7th, although had a larger share of the vote – 18.9%, or 1,161 votes.
The Vauxhall Conservatives will have a huge job on their hands if they want to upset sitting Labour MP Kate Hoey. The 2010 General Election saw Hoey returned to Parliament with 21,498 votes – a massive 49.8% share of the vote.
The LibDems beat the Tories to second place in 2010 with Caroline Pidgeon polling 10.847 votes – 25.1% share of the vote. The Tories trailed in third place with Glyn Chambers receiving 9,301 votes – a 21.5% share.
Bellis and his campaign team must be hoping to finish a credible second in 2015. The local elections earlier this year suggested that inner London is no happy hunting ground for any LibDem politician. Plus the prolific pace of gentrification in Vauxhall over the past four years may add a demographic to the area that could be more sympathetic to Tory policies.
The Vauxhall LibDems have yet to declare a candidate for the constituency in 2015.
Over in Dulwich and West Norwood, the third constituency that covers parts of Brixton, the Labour party have selected Southwark councillor Helen Hayes to take the place of the retiring Tessa Jowell. Another Southwark councillor, James Barber, will fight the seat for the LibDems. The Conservatives have yet to choose a candidate.
Barring any major political meltdown, the 2015 General Election will take place on 7 May.