Two Conservative women have made election history today.
Andrea Jenkyns has just won the Morley & Outwood seat by defeating Ed Balls, Shadow Chancellor and close associate of Ed Miliband. She scored 18,776 votes (39%), beating Ed Balls into second place with 18,354 seats (38%). Balls is married to Yvette Cooper, both of whom served in the Labour government and, latterly, shadow cabinet. I met both of them when I was Oxfordshire Leader and South East Regional Chairman. I met Ed Balls in his own constituency. He is clearly very intelligent and, I thought, a decent and approachable bloke. He was too clever for a lot of the Labour Party and probably not sufficiently clubbable.
The amusing irony is that his wife, Yvette Cooper, is a likely candidate to succeed Miliband when he goes. She is also highly intelligent and very personable. I am almost certainly the only person to have given her lunch in the Carlton Club which she reciprocated by taking me to The Gay Hussar in Soho, few Conservatives will have lunched there! I will watch her career with interest and I think having Ed at home to do the washing up will make it easier for her to go for the Labour leadership. She would make a better job than Miliband.
Kelly Tolhurst has kicked out the treacherous Mark Reckless in Rochester and Strood, scoring 23,142 votes (44%). UKIP defector, Reckless, came second with 16,009 votes (30%), followed by Naushabah Khan (Labour) with 10,396 votes (20%), pushing the Green candidate, Clive Gregory, on 1,516 votes (3%). Reckless had been a Conservative MP and quit the Commons to stand in the resulting by-election as a UKIP candidate which he won. However, his record with the Conservatives was never good and it seems the electorate have had a chance to assess him and made their decision accordingly.
I wish Andrea and Kelly the best of luck as they start their parliamentary careers. They have got themselves into the political history books by reason of the opponent they have defeated. I hope their next entry is on the basis of their own political achievements in parliament.