Meet the Conservative candidate bidding to be St Albans' new MP
- Credit: St Albans Conservative Party
The battlelines have been drawn, and the new Conservative candidate set to take on Daisy Cooper at the next General Election has been announced.
Local Tories have selected Clare De Silva as their Parliamentary spokesperson in a bid to reclaim the constituency lost by Anne Main in 2019.
Clare has a background in community transformation and has worked with charities and social enterprises to create projects which improve health, education and employment opportunities. She has a particular interest in supporting families and has also run her own business so has an understanding of the challenges faced by small business owners.
She said: “I am a firm believer that politics is best done from the ground up, person by person and street by street so I cannot wait to get stuck in knocking on doors, meeting people across St Albans and listening to constituents. I am also particularly keen to connect with some of the incredible voluntary and community groups across the city.
"Having been involved in the early years and maternity sectors I am passionate about supporting families, and as someone who has run my own business, I am keen to ensure that St Albans is the very best place to start and run a business. Through championing improvements in health and family services, supporting businesses in the area and protecting the precious Green Belt, I will work tirelessly to ensure that the voices of local people are heard at the very heart of Westminster.”
The Herts Ad pitted some questions to Clare following her appointment.
One of the biggest criticisms of Anne Main was that she was out of touch with local people - how can you ensure you have as visible a presence as Daisy Cooper does now?
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"One of the things that has drawn me to politics is the opportunity to really get stuck into a community and help people with the everyday issues that they face. I’ve set up community groups and I’ve been a councillor – both roles that involve working in the heart of a community – and now in standing for Parliament I want to take the same approach in St Albans. I’ve already been out and about across the city, meeting constituents and attending local events and I’m thoroughly enjoying it."
What can you offer local voters to lure them back to the Conservatives instead of the Lib Dems?
"I appreciate that the 2019 election was challenging for the Conservatives here, but since then a lot has changed. Our Conservative government has steered the country through a tough pandemic, making sure that through initiatives such as the furlough scheme that people were supported.
"The vaccination programme was world leading and our approach to the war in Ukraine has literally been a lifeline for many there. As Conservative MP for St Albans I would work with colleagues in Government to ensure that the voices of local people were heard at the highest levels in Westminster when the big decisions were being made."
What are the key issues in the constituency that you will be focusing on?
"As someone who has run their own business I know how difficult it can be at times, but how rewarding it is too. I want to ensure that St Albans is the best place to start and run a business through championing new investment in the area and supporting local business networks.
"I am passionate about supporting families and health and I am particularly concerned about some of the issues in local healthcare, such as maternity provision at Watford General Hospital which affects many women and families in St Albans. I want to encourage the setting up of more family support provision in St Albans to help families when they need it most, and I will work with neighbouring MP’s to tackle some of the big issues in our health provision here.
"Preserving our environment is something that is very important to me too. All around St Albans we have beautiful green spaces which host a wide range of wildlife. I am keen to ensure that we protect this precious resource by focussing on our brownfield sites when building much-needed housing."
How will you regain trust in the Tories given what's happened at a national level?
"I think that it’s fair to say that Westminster politics has been somewhat turbulent recently, but my focus is very much on working in St Albans on the issues that really matter to people here. One of the things I love about the Conservative Party is that we seek to bring people together, rather than divide them into ‘many’ and ‘few’ as Labour do, or ‘leave’ and ‘remain’ as the Lib Dems have done. We are the party for everyone. That’s why I am a Conservative and that’s why I want to be St Albans next MP."
Who will you be voting for in the leadership ballot?
"We have two fantastic candidates for party leader and each of them bring fresh energy and ideas. I don’t think we can lose either way actually. I’ve been impressed by both of them, but for me the commitment to families, the NHS and a solid plan for the economy just gives Rishi the edge so I will be voting for him when my ballot hits the doormat."