John Maples has announced that he is to stand down as MP for Stratford upon Avon. This is a gold plated Conservative seat with Maples taking 51.3 per cent of the vote at the last general election. Many years ago it was the seat of John Profumo of the Profumo scandal.
Maples was at one time seen as something of a rising star in the Conservative Party holding two Treasury posts before losing his seat at Lewisham West in 1997. He returned to the Commons in 1997 and held various shadow posts until 2000.
Redistricting in Warwickshire has created a new safe Conservative seat in Kenilworth and Southam. The Conservatives should be able to win Rugby from Labour and they should also take Warwick and Leamington if they do as well as expected.
All these seats have male Conservative candidates. Indeed, in Warwick and Leamington there may not be a woman on the ballot paper. David Cameron has been keen to increase the number of women Conservative MPs, but this is not always easy in safe Conservative seats. Labour has used all women shortlists which are often unpopular with the electorate but academics like Sarah Childs who have researched the subject suggest that it is the most effective way of reducing the gender imbalance in the Commons.
Whoever does become the Conservative candidate for Stratford will be nominated for a plum seat that contains some attractive towns, villages and countryside.