The head of technology at the Daily Telegraph has thrown his hat into the ring in the race to become the Conservative candidate in Boston and Skegness for next year’s General Election.
Matt Warman, 33, is among the contenders vying for a chance to contest the October 25 ‘open primary’ event, where the candidate will be chosen.
The journalist has a strong affinity to the area, with wife Rachel’s family living here. His father in law is Boston Grammar School teacher Martin Weaver and his mother in law works at RSPB Freiston Shore.
He is head of a Conservative association in Hertfordshire – a role that has given him chance to pitch the views of the grassroots to the party leadership – and wants to trade in his media job for the chance to make a difference to the community.
He told The Standard: “If you want to make a contribution to society at large then you can’t get away from the fact that it’s politicians taking the difficult decisions.”
Matt – who covered yesterday’s launch of the new iPad for the Telegraph – says he has experience of helping to boost party membership and win back votes and seats from the Lib Dems and UKIP, and vowed to replicate that success here.
He said: “In Boston and Skegness, and broadly in Lincolnshire, there’s a real disconnect between voters and politicians.
“That’s led to an awful lot of the UKIP phenomenon.
“One job is to be able to say that if you want, as a citizen of Boston, the best possible representation in Westminster then the best representative will be someone plugged into the Government and that’s not going to be UKIP.”
Matt wants to be able to reach out to the people who do not otherwise vote and also said it was important to address issues such as immigration that have been at the heart of UKIP’s electoral success in the area.
He feels it is ‘patronising’ to suggest people vote UKIP as a protest.
He says he accepts that there are good and bad things to come from immigration and hopes voters frustrated with the European Union will be attracted by his party’s offer of an ‘in/out referendum’.
When it comes to UKIP he added: “They play on people’s fears. I think everyone who knows the area realises it is a much more sophisticated debate than that.”
Matt feels that there is also reason to be optimistic among voters in Boston and Skegness - pointing to the relatively low number of empty shops in Boston and the establishment of a new aquarium in Skegness as signs of positives.
He added: “Sometimes the area as a whole has suffered from the perception that it is one that only has problems but that couldn’t be further from the truth.”
The open primary process was launched after current MP Mark Simmonds announced his intention to stand down.
His comments sparked controversy when he suggested that the pay and expenses of an MP were not sufficient.
Matt feels there should be a focus on the future not the past but said: “I think the salaries MPs get are more than enough to live on. I think anyone who think that they are not shouldn’t be surprised when voters react negatively.”
His main focus is to run a campaign that can engage people with the political process with the aim of presenting the views and feelings of people in the area in the best way at Westminster.
Whether he gets the chance to do that or not will be decided in the coming days. There will be interviews carried out tomorrow in Skegness, with a shortlist then to be selected, probably of four people.
Among the names set to be on the ‘long list’ going to interview are ex Lincolnshire county councillor Kelly Smith and former soldier and Middle East security expert Matthew Glanville.
The final contenders going to the open primary will be known early next week and any member of the public - regardless of their party affinity - can register to go along, listen to the debate and vote on the candidate.
For Matt, though, it’s odd to be the one answering rather than asking the questions.
He said: “My day job is being on the other side of the fence. So far it has been a positive experience.”