General Election 2024: Conservative parliamentary candidate for East Thanet announced as Helen Harrison

Former MP Craig Mackinlay with East Thanet Conservative candidate Helen Harrison (image @helenharrisonuk via X)

The Conservative parliamentary candidate for East Thanet is North Northamptonshire councillor Helen Harrison.

The 52-year-old has announced her candidacy for the East Thanet seat which former incumbent Craig Mackinlay will not now contest following his battle with sepsis and resulting quadruple amputation.

The chartered physiotherapist, who is the partner of disgraced former MP Peter Bone, was a director of Grassroots Out, a cross party Brexit campaign funded by millionaire UKIP donor Aaron Banks and backed by Nigel Farage.

Ms Harrison recently stood in a by-election in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, after Mr Bone’s constituents removed him as MP via a recall petition but her bid failed when Labour’s Gen Kitchen took more than 45% of the vote.

Ms Harrison was born in Kettering and grew up in a North Northamptonshire hamlet.


She attended the University of Liverpool and gained a Physiotherapy degree, going on to work in the NHS in the Peterborough hospitals and GP practices before setting up and running her own physiotherapy business.

The mother-of-two has stood for seats in the 2015 and 2017 general elections and been an elected councillor since 2015 for East Northants District Council and then the new North Northants (Unitary) Council where she was Executive Member for Adults, Health and Wellbeing until stepping down to run in the Wellingborough by-election in February.

At a packed meeting of the East Thanet Conservative Association on Sunday (June 2), Helen  was chosen to replace Craig Mackinlay as the Conservative candidate.

Helen said: “It is an honour and a privilege to have been selected as the Conservative candidate. However, it is very much tinged with sadness. Your former MP, Craig Mackinlay, was an outstanding Member of Parliament for this area. He is of the highest integrity, principled and brave. The terrible illness that struck him down, has left him unable to continue. He has dealt with the unimaginable challenge he has faced with the good humour, fortitude and courage.

“Craig and I share many beliefs. We both campaigned to leave the European Union, in fact I founded Grassroots Out, the second largest Leave campaign. And, like Craig, I was part of Leave Means Leave. I am concerned about the rush to achieve net zero at great cost to ordinary people who cannot afford it. I ran the Back Boris Tour in 2019, which was an integral part of a campaign to get Boris as our Prime Minister to deliver Brexit.

“I am living in the constituency and will be buying a house locally. As your MP, not only will I hold weekly surgeries and be available to all residents, but you will also likely bump into me in the supermarket or high street.

“My plan will be to set up a listening campaign. I will listen to the people of East Thanet, campaign on the issues that they are concerned about and deliver results for them. Whether it be protecting the Green Wedge and opposing unwanted overdevelopment, supporting the reopening of Manston Airport or stopping the boats, I will listen, campaign and deliver.

“I will always remember that I am East Thanet’s representative in Westminster and not Westminster’s representative in East Thanet.”

Other candidates for East Thanet are Polly Billington (Labour) Steve Roberts (Green) Jai Singh (Liberal Democrats) and Paul Webb  (Reform UK).

At the next Parliamentary General Election, the current South Thanet and North Thanet constituencies will no longer exist; the boundaries were updated by the Boundary Commission and the new constituencies will be known as the East Thanet constituency and the Herne Bay and Sandwich constituency.

Westbrook, Birchington, Garlinge, Thanet villages wards and Westgate form part of a Herne Bay and Sandwich County Constituency while East Thanet takes in Ramsgate, Broadstairs and most of Margate.

The country will go to the polls on July 4. Electoral Calculus predicts Labour will take the East Thanet seat with 94% of the vote compared to 6% for Conservatives.


  1. I doubt very much that Farage knows much about Clacton, though chances are this lady knows even less about Thanet! Wasn’t there a local Conservative cllr deemed worthy? … come to think of it, no locals worthy to represent Labour or Lib-Dems either??!

    • It’s probably a case of sheer desperation by the Tories , just glad to find anyone willing to stand as a prospective candidate. Zero chance of winning , little more than a name on the ballot slip in order to pretend that the conservatives are a presence in politics.
      Chances of Sunak still being the leader by 12th of July? The only thing that could make it any more farcical would be for Cameron to be suggested for the job.
      Though the notion that labour will get 94% of the vote is a bit of a stretch. But with Craig stepping down 50% plus is quite possible.

    • Coincidentally Ms Pink (AKA Peter Checksfield) I know even less about North Northamptonshire where this lady comes from! In fact I know nothing about North Northamptonshire and can’t be bothered to look it up, because she hasn’t a snowflakes chance in Hell of becoming the MP for East Thanet. She is still married to the ex MP Peter Bone, why? He was thrown out of Parliament for sexual misconduct and bullying, like another local MP, whats his name, Oh yes Elphick or some such!

    • Reform has a colourful candidate (Amelia Randall) standing in Sandwich & Herne Bay. A Mail on Sunday investigation revealed her to be a self-proclaimed witch, offering her services as a psychic & spellcaster on a pornographic website.

      Reform banned her from hosting an event in Westgate with its deputy leader Ben Habib due to her far-right views on immigration! Voters of Sandwich & Herne Bay beware!

  2. The boundary between east Thanet and herne bay constituencies is actually margate railway station, towards the clock tower is in east Thanet, westbrook, westgate and birchington are in herne bay !!

  3. There was little chance of the conservatives holding East Thanet with the boundary changes, and with this awful candidate they really have handed it to Labour on a plate. Unbelievable that a local candidate could not be found even at such short notice.

  4. Even if there is not someone in Thanet suitable to stand, surely there must be someone in Kent. Absolutely disgraceful that someone who has no idea of the problems of this area is going to be standing for the constituency. Proves that Westminster politics is not interested in the local areas.

    And the fact she is the partner of a disgraced MP makes it even worse. No hope for the Conservatives in Thanet East.

  5. “The 71-year-old disgraced Conservative MP was suspended for bullying and sexual misconduct with a male member of his staff where he dropped his towel exposing himself in front of the employees face while they were in the bathroom together after Bone booked them a single room. He lost the Tory whip and then continued as an Independent until a petition vacated his position”. And prospective Tory Helen Harrison has stuck by him through all this!

  6. Lack of morals, is there a problem with Tory MPs, the former Dover MP chased a girl round his kitchen table stating he was a very naughty tory or some such garbage, then the MP farmer watching porn in Westminster sitting in the benches, there are many others. These are individuals who are responsible for there own actions but bearing in mind the Tories should be vetting there candidates, is this how low there bar is set and what does that say about the party and it’s leaders?

    • No worse than labours MP , unfortunately bad behaviour and dishonesty is rife throughout parliament, just depends on which ones you choose to focus at any one time. A web search is your friend if you wish to be a bit more inclusive when looking for wrong doing in parliament.

    • You’re forgetting coffin-dodger Gale who very firmly nailed his flag to the masts of both Sandy Ezekiel, tory leader of TDC who went to prison for fraud and Charlie Elphicke who went to prison for sexual assault.

      Gale not only stood by but publicly supported both.

      Judge Gale by the company he keeps.

      • “coffin dodger”? Should we call young candidates “nappy wearers”?

        A little respect, please.

        As for “the company he keeps”, as he has helped both myself and several friends and family members, I’m rather impressed by some of the people he gets to meet.

        • Its easy to be impressed when you have little to no standards tbh. The “I’m alright, Jack” brand of politics, too. Eww.

      • Tories have a record of dishonesty & misconduct in public office dating back to Jonathan Aitken MP for South Thanet imprisoned for
        perjury & perverting the course of justice in 1999.

        Gale is expected to lose his seat to Labour on 4th July. Independence Day for his constituents.

          • Electoral Calculus & others predict the demise of Gale. Also predicted by respected pollster Professor Sir John Curtice (University of Strathclyde).

  7. Are the Tories a serious political party anymore, or merely there to forward there own self interests while earning very well from it in there wage, cash for questions, expenses, and other ways they can generate cash for themselves of wich there are many. NO CREDIBILITY IN THE TORIES, it went after john major with the new self serving tory MP candidates. All sunak could do on TV last night is shout, talk over everyone while faking sympathy with the public for a mess his party created, and make up lies which he kept repeatedly like a petulant child, politics has dropped to the sewers with this lot, they believe if they shout and lie enough you are dumb enough to believe them, it’s fright tactics with no substance, but they want to tell you immigration is falling when it’s rising, they want to tell you that NHS waiting list is falling when it’s rising they want to cut taxes, great until you think less taxes means less income for government which leafs to less investment in your state pension, NHS,POLICE,SCHOOLS and Other Many public services including funding local councils which then drives up your council tax as they will have to compensate for the loss from government, means YOU PAY MOREBUNDERVTORIES, but it’s stealth, while they claim it’s everyone else’s fault and nothing to do with there mismanagement of the country and our tax money, irresponsible Tories.

    • I think Labour are in danger of celebrating prematurely. Remember Neil Kinnock’s campaign, where they partied like they’d won – and then lost the election? Yes, they probably will win, but not if they come across too smug.

      • He did, you chose to miss it, just as the civil service this morning issued a statement stopping just short of calling Rishi a lier but said be cautious what you believe from him last night, as they have never backed up what Sunak said last night. Where as Tories policy of tax cuts and getting rid of NI leaves the NHS dead and a 55 billion pound black hole in finances under the Tories, FACT not conjecture. Labour will charge VAT to private schools, why not national schools pay it, they will shut the non dom loop holes, and tax the energy companies more on there profits like the rest of the world. That’s the tax increase income, not on the working person.

        • If THAT is what you got from the perm secs letter, I think you should attend some reading comprehension skills classes my man.

  8. Our political system needs changing drastically, it’s broken, old,no longer works in modern society. One of the changes should be the candidate must live full time permanently at least while representing in the town, district, or if applies the county which they are standing in. If these parties can’t find anyone, do not put anyone up.

    • That unfortunately would just dumb down politics , some areas just don’t have any real talent, or the talent has too much baggage in the closet to be put forward. Do we really want to fill westminster with flawed non entities?

      • Better fill it with joe or jane that has experienced life as opposed to chinless self entitled, Uxbridge no nothing of life graduates. Or do you place politicians on a pedestal that you look up to? Remember they are just public servants, when the few of them do the job right, the large majority rest have a god complex.

        • But we do need well educated , knowledgable people , with wider viewpoints than Joe or Jane, which is why we have a system of central and local government, given the woeful state of TDC would you really want the country run by people who can’t keep toilets open, comply with fire safety legislation in its housing, keep the harden waste in its depot within 5% of its licensed capacity?
          I certainly don’t. Nothing to do with pedestals and looking up, all to do with acknowledging that there are those that can operate on the world stage and those that really should’nt leave the shire and that those running the country are largely for all their faults way better suited for the role than I.

  9. Let’s face it, any Tory candidate in East Thanet is only ever going to be a paper candidate. They know they won’t win the seat and I would be amazed if they spend time and money trying to defend it. Much more likely to put their resources into keeping Gale in where the vote could be much closer.

    • It is surprising Labour didn’t choose a better candidate though. Helen Whitehead is both local (from Margate?) and quite popular – why didn’t they give her East Thanet instead of an area where she stands little chance of winning?

      • I agree and I have found it very surprising that Labour didn’t pick a local candidate to fight East Thanet and chose instead to parachute someone in from outside the area.

        I’m not sure if that reflects badly on the local candidate pool, Labour HQ or both.

        • I went to the selection meeting last year. Two local-ish candidates were shortlisted (one from Margate and one from Canterbury, along with Polly Billington and another bloke from outside the area. Polly Billington was head and shoulders above the other candidates. She demonstrated a much better knowledge of local issues than any of the others and I thought she was really impressive (and I am not easily impressed). I don’t care where she is from – she will be a great advocate for Thanet.

          • She may well have done her research, but does she know local people, use local shops and travel on local roads? I could easily become an expert on Islington (or anywhere else) without living in the place, but that’s never the same.

      • A) Because Billington is obviously seen as some sort of future prospect for advancement in the party.
        B) She’s lived closer to and mixed within the london political bubble, and from a link on here previously been a lobbyist and close to corporate interests

        C) Whitehead is rather to blinkered about issues outside of housing
        D) whitehead seems rather quiet on the campaigning front, nothing on facebook and nothing i’ve seen locally , both in stark contrast to Gale especially and Billington to a lesser extent.
        E) Whitehead is effectively a Harrison , a convenient name to put on the ballot at little cost to the party in an area they have no expectation of doing well in.

          • In my , admittedly very limited experience with her, the reality is rather underwhelming , her much self publicised neuro diversity makes for face to face interactions to be somewhat odd and is quite happy to ignore enquiries that she doesn’t want to deal with. Plus when suits is quite happy to bend things to suit her chosen goals, whilst not technically improper certainly not what people would expect from someone seeking power and influence.

          • I’d still like to meet her in person. I’ll even restrain myself from throwing a milkshake over her!

        • “her much self publicised neuro diversity makes for face to face interactions to be somewhat odd and is quite happy to ignore enquiries that she doesn’t want to deal with.”

          Ableism, mate. REALLY? Its 2024? And people wonder why ND people end up with burn out from constantly masking around NT folk.

          • I may well vote for Helen, but I want to meet her before I make my mind up. It’s far easier to judge someone face to face than via the internet.

          • REALLY what? Discussions where she’ll start laughing awkwardly about a subject, ignores emails on the same subject, it’s got nothing to do with whatever neuro you consider yourself to be and everything to do with being properly capable of doing the job, you would’nt put someone incapable of flying a typhoon in the pilots seat and sending them off on a mission, etc etc. There comes a point when we all reach the limit of our abilities, it’s why i was better suited to being a manual worker than a qualified professional, those limitations don’t make me entitled to be a solicitor and be burnt out because I wouldn’t make the grade.
            Neuro diverse is just a way a saying that you’re on a different point of the neuro spectrum bell curve and are statistically a bit further from the centre. Everyone is on that spectrum and we all have differing abilities , it’s a case of finding where you fit in and not expecting society to accept you in roles for which you are not suited.
            We’re destroying the nations health with the absurd notion that any weight is healthy and its a personal choice , all in order to normalise abnormal and dangerous diets/habits, just plain bonkers.

          • To be fair Steely, I contacted her earlier today asking when she’s campaigning in my area, and got a quick and civil reply.

          • Ms. Pink that’s because it’s something she does want to deal with and has a benefit for her. See if you can get a meaningful and coherent response to something contentious to which she could be held to account later.
            Wouldn’t be the worst MP if she somehow managed it but certainly no one who’d shine.

          • To be fair, that probably applies to pretty much every politician (and most other people too). Roger is not known for replying to things that are awkward for him. But as I said, I’ll judge her in person… and then make up my mind.

      • I agree Helen Whitehead is a very weak candidate, but she is predicted to win in Sandwich & Herne Bay, as can be seen from the polls. Everyone is so sick of the Tories & they want rid of them!

  10. All we wanted was a candidate with local knowledge of the area with a grasp of the issues affecting the people of the Thanet area seems not even a local elected councillor was considered for the position.
    Candidates parachuted into an area they have no knowledge of is a disgrace we need a Member of Parliament who represents their constituents and not a party lap dog.

    • If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain about politics.

      It’d be like being stuck in mud, with an easy way out up a ladder to avoid drowning in it, but choosing to bemoan the ladder, forgetting its just a vehicle for change…

      • In Peru in the early 2000’s ( and maybe still so) voting in elections was seen as a civic duty and in the absence of specific exemptions you were expected to do so. At the polling station your ID card was stamped, you were quite entitled to spoil your ballot but it showed you’d had the chance to partake in the process. Without the requisite stamp on your ID card there were state services you were no longer able to access. Nothing major bit inconvenient. Effectively if you want to have the benefits of society you needed to be part of it.
        Voter apathy in the UK is as worrisome as our politicians , but galvanise the electorate and you get some interesting results, such as Brexit.
        Politics has become dominated by the extremes on both sides, who forget about the vast majority in the middle ground, it’ll be interesting to see how much of a difference the entry of Farage into the fray will make, he talks a straightish arrow , covers matters the mainstream prefer to avoid and sparks debate. Labour and the Cons are quite happy to have legions sit at home and not bother voting as they’re an unknown quantity in the booth. Which is odd as the generally politically silent majority are the backbone of the nation and really deserve more.

        • you’re such a silent majority…as is farage, what with his tv shows, media appearances and regular flights to the usa to support a man once indicted for the forcible rape of a teenage girl…

          Speaking of sparking debate, did you know “allegedly” him and Arron Banks allegedly had a hand in getting wikileaks info RE The DNC server to Trump, allegedly via Assange in the embassy, under the guise of a “radio interview” for Farage LBC show that never, ever materialised? (as oer the arron banks DM leaks a few years ago, which can still be found on the leaks website that covered everything (and didn’t refuse to publish russia critical stuff like wikileaks)

          • Someone on the internet calling itself “anon” persuaded me who to vote for… said no-one ever.

          • “Someone on the internet calling itself “anon” persuaded me who to vote for… said no-one ever.”

            Good thing I’m not trying to persuade anyone how to vote and you’re projecting then, isn’t it Ms Pinky?

  11. Apparently, Tories struggled to find anyone to stand in East Thanet & were relieved to put lacklustre Helen Harrison on the ballot in the wake of her dismal failure in Wellingborough. Perhaps she will be knocked into 3rd place by Reform’s Patrick Swayze lookalike surfer Paul Webb?

  12. What is totally unacceptable and corrupt is the amount of Air time that is given to low life big mouth Farage. He is a total disgrace and idiot and you will have noticed those members of the public who were shown on TV supporting him all seem to have the same thing in common having never spent a day inside a school.

    • As Churchill said

      The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

      So when you have a poorly educated electorate many of whom place no value on education and so perpetuate the problem, politicians are naturally drawn to that section of the vote as there are lots of them and they are more easily persuaded and less likely to question. Basically you just need to promise them more money. Cheap votes.
      You’ll never solve that problem. Can’t make people learn and you can’t restrict the vote.

  13. Another halfwit but the British voters are used to this quality.

    “The chartered physiotherapist, who is the partner of disgraced former MP Peter Bone, was a director of Grassroots Out, a cross party Brexit campaign funded by millionaire UKIP donor Aaron Banks and backed by Nigel Farage.”

  14. All very tidy but how much genuine interest in Thanet does a Councillor from Northants have? Going to be a long weekly commute for her local surgeries here.

  15. I have got bored now, so will end with my prediction, this election will have the lowest turnout on record because people are fed up with the same old same old! The First Past the Post system is corrupt, as more people vote AGAINST whatever government is elected, than for it! So, stop voting it only encourages them!

    • I’d give up too if I was in East Thanet! Fortunately, my area has candidates who live, work in and know the area.

  16. I stopped voting years ago for several reasons. The main reason is the poor quality of candidates from all parties. Another is the nature of political parties. They seem to think their parties are more important than the country at large. In fact, they are factionalist by their very nature. Then there is the abuse of the term democracy. It means rule by all the people. In this political system it is not possible. Only one party rules after what is in fact nothing more than a popularity contest.

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