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Page last updated at 13:09 GMT, Friday, 6 November 2009

Claire Perry chosen for Devizes

By Paul Barltrop
BBC Politics Show West

It could be the best job in West country politics. The Conservative MP for Devizes in Wiltshire has the region's biggest majority. Boundary changes at the next election could make it even safer.

Conservatives in Wiltshire have picked the person they think will be a future government minister.

Claire Perry beat 184 others to be selected as candidate for the seat of Devizes.

The departing Tory MP, Michael Ancram, had the biggest majority in the West at the last general election.

With a plum seat, and close links to the shadow cabinet, the mother-of-three could be heading for the front benches.

Boundary changes at the next election will, it is reckoned, make the Devizes constituency even safer.

It has had nothing but Conservative MPs since the 1920s.

So there was a flood of applications from hopefuls on the party's list of approved candidates.

'Dream come true'

The victor was Claire Perry, who lives near Salisbury, grew up in North Somerset, and went from her local comprehensive school on to Oxford and a career in banking.

"I can't tell you how excited and thrilled I am to be here," she smiles. "It's an absolute dream come true."

Malborough High Street
The constituency is reckoned to be the safest seat in the West

She is now busy getting involved in constituency life, and deciding where she and her family will live.

Her abilities had already been spotted by Conservative Central Office.

After joining the party in 2006, she was asked to work for Shadow Chancellor George Osborne.

It was one of the stipulations of the local party that successful applicants should have the ability and desire for a Front Bench career.

That suits Claire Perry.

Finding opposition

"I don't want to run before I can walk," she says. "If I ever get a chance of a high position in the next Cameron government that would be great."

The other parties will try to prevent that, but getting and keeping candidates is not easy.

The Liberal Democrats, who usually come second, lost one PPC.

"Candidates coming to look at seats can read the numbers like anybody else," says agent Jenny Shorten.

"We are on a journey here," she adds, "but it is quite a long road to follow."

Labour too are on to their second candidate.

"I suppose it isn't natural territory for Labour," concedes party veteran Margaret Taylor.

Both will get to know Claire Perry: they could spend decades trying to unseat her.

The Politics Show West is on BBC One Sundays and on the iPlayer

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