Fringe Box



Godalming and Ash Election Line-up: What The Local Candidates Stand For

Published on: 28 Jun, 2024
Updated on: 28 Jun, 2024

The new local boundaries for parliamentary constituencies.

By Chris Caulfield

local democracy reporter

Surrey, once a stronghold for top Conservative politicians, is facing major changes ahead of the July 4 General Election.

Several high-profile Tories, including Michael Gove (formerly MP for Surrey Heath), Kwasi Kwarteng (Spelthorne), and Dominic Raab (Esher), have announced they won’t run again. This leaves Chancellor Jeremy Hunt as the last senior Conservative standing in the area.

All eyes are now on the new Godalming and Ash constituency, which replaces Hunt’s long-held South West Surrey seat. Recent polls show a tight race between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, with Hunt’s historically safe seat now too close to call.

Pollsters Ipsos say the Conservatives are projected to receive 34 per cent of the vote with the Liberal Democrat Paul Follows, leader of Waverley Borough Council, on 33 per cent.

If correct, the final outcome could depend on how the vote shares of other parties splits support. They are currently polled as Labour 17 per cent, Reform 11 per cent, and Green five.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service gave each candidate 100 words to pitch why you should vote for them.

The candidates are below, in alphabetical order by surname. 

Graham Drage with former party leader Richard Tice

Graham Drage, Reform UK

Graham was born and educated in Guildford, going on to read politics and French at university. He says he remains a passionate, bilingual European and a strident supporter of the new geostrategic opportunities surfacing beyond the EU, in the Indo-Pacific and other emerging markets.

Since the late 1990’s Graham has been working as business consultant whilst running a small manufacturing business.

He holds political views which are centre-right, believing in small state, low taxation economies which operate “within their means”. Graham maintains that SMEs are “the beating-heart of Britain”, which must now be encouraged and incentivised to solve the UK’s debt crisis.

Cllr Paul Follows

Paul Follows, Liberal Democrats

Paul says: “I am the Liberal Democrat candidate for Godalming and Ash and a passionate advocate for a more accessible and better funded NHS, safe, clean water supplies, and a properly funded social care sector.

“I have lived locally for over a decade and am proud to stand up for my home community in this election. As a councillor and council leader in Godalming and Waverley, I have a record of working with residents and others to deliver for our community and rebuild our public services.

“The country is crying out for honest, effective, and competent government. Liberal Democrats in Parliament can help bring about much-needed positive change locally and nationally.”

Jeremy Hunt MP

Jeremy Hunt, Conservative

Jeremy was born in Shere, went to school in Godalming, learned to swim in Cranleigh, and now lives in Hambledon. After setting up a successful business, he’s represented South West Surrey since the 2005 General Election.

Nationally, he says, he’s known as the health secretary who won record funding increases for the NHS and the chancellor who restored calm to the economy and brought inflation down to normal.

He is proud of his local record. He says he is widely acknowledged as an effective local champion,  negotiated £25 million for a new cancer centre at the Royal Surrey Hospital, secured new flood defences for Godalming and protected the Surrey Hills from overdevelopment.

Ruby Tucker, Green Party 

Ruby Tucker from the Green Party is also running for election. She was contacted for this piece but has not responded. This piece will be updated if she gets in touch.

Cllr James Walsh

James Walsh, Labour 

James is a communications professional and has worked as a journalist and as a senior stakeholder communications manager in the NHS. He was elected to Guildford Borough Councillor in 2016 and is the leader of the authority’s Labour group.

James, married with one son, was inspired to go into politics by the example of his grandfather, who was a councillor in Egham Hythe for 31 years and who helped people in his local area. James says he is standing to represent Godalming and Ash to help bring the change that the constituency and the country need after 14 years of Conservative-led decline.

Harriet Williams, Women’s Equality Party

Harriet Williams, Women’s Equality Party

Harriet is the Women’s Equality Party deputy leader. She says she has an accomplished record of pushing to end violence against women, campaigning against inequalities in healthcare, misogyny in Britain’s institutions and advocating for single parents’ rights.

Harriet believes that politics needs a shake up and that things can get better. She says that from crumbling social care to increasing poverty, Godalming and Ash has seen significant cutbacks to local services that the community relies on.

Harriet is standing to advocate for the needs of the community and put the people at the heart of politics. She says she is determined to deliver a brighter future that other parties aren’t offering.

Share This Post

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *