The PR and public affairs professionals standing in the 2017 general election

A number of industry figures are standing to election to Parliament on 8 June.

PR and public affairs pros show their party stripes (©ThinkstockPhotos)
PR and public affairs pros show their party stripes (©ThinkstockPhotos)

Of the 15 industry candidates identified by PRWeek in the 2015 general election, all but one were defeated and returned to their jobs after polling days. Will this year's batch have better luck?

Like in 2015, many candidates will be younger party activists sent into seats seen as unwinnable in order to gain experience for future campaigns. Others stand much more chance of packing in their PR career come 9 June, including some who fell to narrow defeats last time around. Others, who we list at the end of the page, missed out on getting their local party's nomination. All data from previous polls is according to the BBC.

We will update this page with future candidates as they become known...

Matt Hemsley - Lib Dem candidate for Cardiff North

Hemsley is campaigns and advocacy manager for Oxfam Cymru, and previously worked for sustainable transport charity Sustrans in various press office roles.

The Welsh Lib Dems came fifth behind Labour, the Conservatives, UKIP and Plaid Cymru, with 2,278 votes to Labour winner Julie Morgan's 16,766.

Max Wilkinson - Lib Dem candidate for Stroud

Max Wilkinson is an account manager at Top 150-listed agency Camargue, and formerly a local newspaper journalist. He is a councillor on Cheltenham Borough Council.

Camargue probably won't need to look for someone new to fill his role. The Lib Dems came fifth in Stroud in 2015 with 2,086 votes, while the Conservatives took the seat with 27,813 votes for Neil Carmichael.

Tomos Davies - Conservative candiate for Ynys Mon (Anglesey)

Davies joined Newgate Communications last year as an associate partner in its public affairs team. He had previously been a special adviser to the UK Government's Wales Office.

In 2015 the seat was won by Labour's Albert Owen with 10,871 votes, just 229 more than Plaid Cymru's candidate. The Conservative candidate in the island constituency was third with 7,393 votes.

Rebecca Lury - Labour candidate for Ruislip, Northwood & Pinner

Formerly of FleishmanHillard and Westbourne Communications, Lury is senior policy and public affairs manager at global payments technology firm VocaLink. She is also a Labour councillor in Southwark.

Lury faces an uphill battle to win the London seat off a famous political name; in 2015 Nick Hurd won 30,521 votes for the Conservatives - three times more than the Labour candidate.

Matt Hartley - Conservative candidate for Eltham

Matt Hartley is the head of public affairs at the Money Advice Trust, and a former parliamentary researcher for the Conservatives. He is also a Conservative councillor for Coldharbour & New Eltham, and serves as the leader of the opposition on Greenwich Council.

Clive Efford, who has held the south east London seat for Labour since 1997, won in the constituency in 2015 with 18,393 seats to the Conservatives's 15,700.

Thomas Smith - Conservative candidate for Blaydon

A director for EU public policy at bank UBS, Smith has previously worked in policy and government relations at HSBC and Prudential.

The Conservatives finished behind UKIP in 2015. The Tory candidate's 7,838 votes was a margin lower than UKIP's 7,863, and far behind Labour MP David Anderson's 22,090.

Tom Hunt - Conservative candidate for Doncaster Central

Tom Hunt is a media relations manager at the pressure group Countryside Alliance, and councillor in East Cambridgeshire District Council.

He faces a tough task in Doncaster - in 2015 in the town's Central constituency, the Conservatives came third with 8,386 votes, 1,400 behind UKIP and a long way back from the Labour victor Rosie Winterton, who accrued 19,840 votes.

Alicia Kearns - Conservative candidate for Mitcham & Morden

A director of the agency Global Influence and previously of Grayling and Munro & Forster. Kearns had been one of the final three nominees for Conservative stronghold Chelmsford for 2017, but lost to East of England MEP Vicky Ford by just eight votes.

Kearns faces a challenge to overturn Labour - in 2015 Siobhain McDonagh got 27,380 votes to beat Conservative Paul Holmes by nearly 17,000 votes. Holmes is this year standing in Southampton Test (see below).

James Bird - Conservative candidate for Walsall South

Bird is a director at Remarkable Group and previously an associate director at Quatro PR. In 2015 he fought in Birmingham Hall Gree but polled 8,329 votes, less than a third of the Labour winner's total. He had been a candidate to stand in Birmingham Northfield in 2017, before winning the Walsall South nomination.

Labour's Valerie Vaz held Walsall South in 2015 with 19,740 votes to the Conservatives' 13,733.

Owen Meredith - Conservative candidate for Newcastle-under-Lyme

Meredith has worked for publishing trade body the PPA since 2014, and is now its director of external affairs, prior to which he worked in parliament. He also represents the PPA as a non-executive director of the Committee of Advertising Practice, which creates the standards enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Meredith stands a good chance - in 2015, Labour's Paul Farrelly won Newcastle-under-Lyme with 16,520 votes to the Conservatives' 15,870.

Peter Cuthbertson - Conservative candidate for Darlington

Cuthbertson currently works for Oakhill Communications as an account director, and previously was at PB Political Consulting and Maitland Political.

In 2015 he also contested Darlington and despite winning 14,479 votes, was still more than 3,000 votes behind Labour's Jenny Chapman. This year's contest is predicted to be much closer.

Amna Ahmad - Lib Dem candidate for Sutton and Cheam

Ahmad has worked for Edelman, FleishmanHillard and Open Road, and was most recently a freelance and contractor at Incisive Health. She was chosen as the next Lib Dem candidate for the London suburb in July 2016, shortly after an unsuccessful attempt to become a London Assembly member for Croydon and Sutton.

Sutton and Cheam had been held by the Lib Dems’ Paul Burstow from 1997 until 2015, when Conservative Paul Scully took the seat with 20,732 votes to Burstow’s 16,811.

Paul Holmes - Conservative candidate for Southampton Test

Holmes worked for Portland for 18 months before becoming a special adviser to Conservative minister Patrick McLoughlin last year. He has previously run for office in London's Mitcham and Morden.

Labour incumbent Alan Whitehead received 18,017 votes in Southampton Test in 2015, 3,800 more than the Conservative challenger.

Matthew Maxwell Scott - Conservative candidate for Carshalton and Wallington

The government relations lead at law firm Slater & Gordon, Maxwell Scott has previously worked at the BBC as a corporate writer, in external comms for insurer RSA, the CBI and the agency Financial Dynamics (now part of FTI Consulting). 

He lost by 1,500 votes to Lib Dem incumbent Tom Brake in 2015 (16,603 versus 15,093).

Luke Pollard - Labour candidate for Plymouth, Sutton & Devonport

Pollard works for Field Consulting, having previously held roles at Edelman and travel body ABTA. He left the latter role ahead of the 2015 election.

In 2015, Pollard stood in the same constituency and lost only narrowly; his 17,597 votes falling just short of Conservative Oliver Colvile's 18,120.

Antony Calvert - Conservative candidate for Wakefield

Calvert set up public affairs and development agency Calvert Communications in September 2015, having previously worked at agencies Hardhat, Redwood Consulting and Curtin and Co.

He had also contested the seat in 2015, when it was held by Mary Creagh of the Labour party, winning 17,301 votes to second-placed Calvert's 14,688. He would be the first Conservative in 85 years to win the seat if he triumphed on 8 June.

Caroline Squire - Conservative candidate for Edgbaston

Caroline Squire is a freelance communicator, having previously worked for Sainsbury's in an interim role, and at Finsbury, among other roles.

Labour's Gisela Stuart won the seat in 2015 with 18,518 votes to Conservative Luke Evans' 15,812.

Kevin McKeever - Labour candidate for Northampton South

McKeever, formerly a partner at Portland, set up his own consultancy called Lowick in March. While at Portland he was accused of being involved in a plot to oust Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

In 2015, McKeever came second with 12,370 votes to 16,163 for David Mackintosh of the Conservatives.

Clark Vasey - Conservative candidate for Workington

Vasey works in corporate affairs at Fujitsu. He joined the company in 2014 following three years as director of corporate comms for the UK at tech security firm Augmentiq. He has also previously worked for Bell Pottinger.

Vasey is standing in Workington against Labour incumbent Sue Hayman. In 2015, Conservative candidate Rozila Kana came second with 11,596 votes to Hayman's 16,282. He helped set up the Blue Collar Conservatism group in 2012, and came a distant second to Labour in Birkenhead in 2015.

Daniel Hamilton - Conservative candidate for Stockport

FTI Consulting senior director Hamilton previously spent four years at Bell Pottinger, during which time he also contested Stockport, in 2015.

Last time around Hamilton got 9,710 votes - 10,061 fewer than Labour victor Ann Coffey.

James Wild - Conservative candidate for North Norfolk

Formerly an account director at Hanover and before that a public affairs manager at T-Mobile, Wild became business Minister Michael Fallon's special adviser in 2012. Fallon is now Secretary of State for Defence.

Last time round the Conservative candidate Ann Steward took 15,256 votes to Lib Dem winner Norman Lamb's 19,299.

Emily Fermor - Lib Dem candidate for Maidstone and the Weald

Fermor is a consultant at Bell Pottinger. An Oxford graduate, she joined the firm last year and is a councillor on Maidstone Borough Council.

Fermor was announced in September last year as the Lib Dem candidate for a seat with a strong Conservative majority. Helen Grant got 22,745 votes in 2015, ahead of 12,036 for Lib Dem candidate Jasper Gerard, who is now the party's head of media.

Tashi Warr - Labour candidate for Dorset South

Warr is a graduate trainee at Newgate Communications, who according to LinkedIn previously worked with Labour MP Chuka Umunna and MEP Clare Moody.

She would appear likely to be able to continue her traineeship next month - in 2015, Conservative victor Richard Drax won 23,756 votes, a little more than twice as many as Labour's Simon Bowkett.

Near misses

Some PR professionals didn't quite made it onto the ballot. They include:

  • Louise Nathanson, a government affairs manager at pharma giant Novartis and a councillor in the London borough of Lambeth, had sought to be the Conservative candidate for Oldham East and Saddleworth.
  • Shirley Soskin came second in the race to be the candidate for Conservative safe seat Hitchin and Harpenden, according to online outlet ConservativeHome. Soskin founded Clarion Communications in 1986 after leaving a comms role at Coca-Cola and now works in recruitment.

If you know of any more, let us know.

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