North West Durham MP Richard Holden is the new chairman of the Conservative Party - but how did he get here? 

Mr Holden was elected in 2019 and became the first ever Conservative to serve the County Durham seat, which covers Consett, Crook and Tow Law. 

In what was seen as a landmark victory for the Tories in the ‘Red Wall’, he defeated former Labour MP Laura Pidcock by a majority of just 1,144. Winning the seat, previously seen as ‘safe’ by many in the area, played a pivotal part in the party’s success in the 2019 General Election. 

Originally from Blackburn, Lancashire, he worked at Conservative Campaign Headquarters before becoming a special adviser to several cabinet members. 

He hit the headlines for the wrong reasons in 2021, however. The Conservative was caught dropping a cigarette outside the local election count at the Lousia Centre in Stanley and was issued with a £100 fine by a council warden. It came after he backed several local litter campaigns and urged residents not to be “litter tossers”. 

In 2022, Mr Holden led a campaign for Durham Constabulary to investigate Labour leader Keir Starmer, following reports in the media regarding potential breaches of COVID-19 regulations by attending a staff gathering during an election campaign in Durham City. 

The plea, dubbed ‘beeragte’ by some, caused the police force to open an investigation in May 2022. But by July they determined the gathering was covered by the "reasonably necessary work" exception in the regulations.

He is a staunch supporter of Rishi Sunak as Prime Minister and backed the North Yorkshire MP during last year’s failed leadership campaign when he lost out to Liz Truss. 

But following Mr Sunak’s promotion to Number 10, Mr Holden has served as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Roads and Local Transport.

This has seen him work in Westminster for improved transport services across the North East. Recent initiatives to have been introduced during his time in office include the £2 cap on bus fares throughout the North East for adults. 

He recently called for a resolution to the “devastating” strike that has paralysed dozens of bus services across the North East.

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“I am doing everything I can to ensure the bus sector gets the support it needs,” said Mr Holden. “That is also going to require goodwill from people on all sides and for operators and the unions to come together and sort this out. I don’t want to see damage to the sector just as it is starting to get back on its feet after Covid, and especially when the Government is doing everything it can in terms of fare caps and extra support as well.”

He is set to be relocated elsewhere in the country before the next General Election, however, due to plans to disband the North West Durham constituency - a move which he labelled “deeply disappointing”. 

Several Consett council wards could move into a new ‘Blaydon and Consett’ constituency crossing the County Durham and Gateshead border while Crook, Stanley and Weardale could change to the Bishop Auckland constituency.