A Tory candidate has pledged to be more visible than the low-profile MP she wants to succeed, who was declared "missing" by many voters and accused of failing to fulfil his duties.

Poppy Simister-Thomas will fight to keep the South Norfolk seat, currently held by Conservative Richard Bacon who is standing down at the general election. 

Mrs Simister-Thomas, whose husband David is the Conservative candidate for Norwich South, said she would be "very active" and visible to her constituents.

Mr Bacon, who has represented the seat since 2001, has faced criticism over the last few years, with voters accusing him of adopting a low profile and going "missing".

In 2022, posters were put up around the constituency asking: "Has anybody seen Richard lately?" In response, he blamed the pandemic for restricting his public appearance.

Eastern Daily Press: Current South Norfolk MP Richard BaconCurrent South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon (Image: UK Parliament)Mrs Simister-Thomas said Mr Bacon, who is Norfolk's longest-serving, had "done a lot of good work" but that she hoped to engage more with constituents.

When asked whether she hoped to be more visible in the community than Mr Bacon, she said she did.

"It's a really long time to serve the community and he's done a lot of good work. But I'm looking to be very active," she added.

"I'm going to work very hard for the community and earn every vote."


Mr Bacon held the seat at the last election with a majority of more than 21,000. But such is the state of the national polls that even in this 'true blue' territory, Mrs Simister-Thomas still faces a tough fight to get to Westminster. Indeed, some surveys have even South Norfolk turning red at the next election. 

Mrs Simister-Thomas said: "I have to take the polls at face value, but I will be active in speaking to people and run a good campaign regardless of whether the seat is marginal. 

"I'm hopeful that the polls will improve. I believe I will win but I'm not going to take that for granted."

She added that she expected divisions within Labour to worsen over the coming months despite Sir Keir Starmer's efforts to "clean up" the party.

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"There are some unpleasant factions in Labour that have yet to come out," she said.

"Rishi Sunak will see the fruits of his hard work in the end."


Mrs Simister-Thomas has a young child and lives in Cambridgeshire but says she regularly 'commutes' into south Norfolk to campaign.

The Oxford University graduate spent five years as an oil trader before joining consultancy firm McKinsey.

Like Mr Bacon, she is opposed to National Grid's plans to build pylons through the heart of the constituency - one of the biggest 'hot button' topics in south Norfolk.

She said people living in the region would "take all of the pain and reap very little benefits" from the project, which would see a 110-mile-long line of pylons run from Norwich to the Thames Estuary.

Norfolk MPs have campaigned for the line to instead be buried under the sea, but National Grid said this option would be costlier to energy bill-payers and have less capacity than an overhead route. 

She said: "The pylons are not the right answer and an offshore grid would future-proof the project. My fellow Conservatives have been doing some great work on this."

Eastern Daily Press: Anti-pylon poster displayed near DissAnti-pylon poster displayed near Diss (Image: Newsquest)TORY FACTIONS

Speaking on the state of the wider Conservative party, Mrs Simister-Thomas said more unity would be required to secure votes in the upcoming elections. 

Mrs Simister-Thomas was reluctant to align herself with South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss' Popular Conservatism (or 'PopCon') group, a right-wing faction recently launched. 

However, she said she supported the group's focus on lower taxation and desire to stimulate economic growth.

Eastern Daily Press: Mrs Simister-Thomas said Liz Truss had been helpful in her campaignMrs Simister-Thomas said Liz Truss had been helpful in her campaign (Image: Newsquest)Mrs Simister-Thomas said she had agreed with a lot of what Ms Truss was "trying to achieve" as prime minister - but welcomed the "clear economic management" of Rishi Sunak's leadership.

"Liz has been very friendly and helpful to me," she added. "But I do agree with the prime minister that we need to have a united Conservative party in the run-up to the election."


The Tory candidate is happy to declare her position on so-called culture war issues, such as gender identity.

She said she did not believe someone could change their sex, but added that the topic required sensitivity. 

She said: "I define a woman as an adult human female, this is based on biology and can't be changed.

"However, a lot of people would sincerely like to change sex and we should try to treat them with compassion.

"That is sometimes lost in this debate."

She said that single-sex spaces, such as toilets, should be preserved.


Mrs Simister-Thomas said she was relieved not to be involved in the election across the pond.

She said: "I have too much respect for institutions and constitutions to vote for Trump, but could not vote for Biden either.

"I really hope America has a better option by November."