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Profile: Conservative candidate Maria Hutchings

Conservative candidate Maria Hutchings Credit: Twitter/Maria Hutchings

The Conservative candidate for the Eastleigh by-election is Maria Hutchings.

She has already run for the seat once before in the 2010 general election, when she lost out to Chris Huhne by 3,864 votes.

Hutchings describes herself as a "straight-talking businesswoman and mother of four". She is running under the slogan "vote for a local MP you can trust".

In 2005, she shot to fame when she challenged the then Prime Minister Tony Blair on a live TV debate about the planned closure of a school for children with special needs.

A few weeks later, she switched from being a Labour supporter to the Conservative party.