Does education secretary Michael Gove want to stand as MP in Hampstead and Kilburn?

Hampstead and Kilburn this week looked like having a new contender for the most hotly contested parliamentary seat at the next general election – MP Michael Gove.

So enamoured was the Secretary of State for Education by his reception at the local Conservative association’s annual dinner last Thursday (November 22), he declared his wish to run for MP Glenda Jackson’s parliamentary seat.

Mr Gove told Heathman: “The great joy about Hampstead and Kilburn is that it’s a melting pot, and once you come here you instantly become a local because it’s just such a fantastic part of London to represent.

“In fact I’m almost tempted to stand myself.

“But I suspect that would probably incur the wrath of the Conservative party chairman.”

He bullishly predicted the Tories would storm to victory and said candidates would be selected from a huge array of local talent.

One person definitely on the Conservative shortlist of 10 candidates due to be interviewed next week is new Tory councillor for Hampstead Town Simon Marcus.

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Lips were tightly sealed about the other names and whether contenders come from the local political scene or nationally.

In 2010 the Conservatives lost Hampstead and Kilburn to Labour MP Ms Jackson by just 42 votes.

London Mayor Boris Johnson and comedian Eddie Izzard are just two names that have so far speculatively been linked to the seat next time round.