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Guildford and Ash & Godalming Constituencies Are Non-Priority for Labour

Published on: 27 Jul, 2023
Updated on: 29 Jul, 2023

Page one of the leaked two-page document listing the 94 constituencies where candidate selection is considered non-priority by the Labour Party.

By Martin Giles

A leaked Labour Party internal document, obtained by the Liberal Democrat party shows that candidate selection for the Parliamentary of Guildford and the new constituency of Godalming & Ash are “non-priority” for the Labour Party at the next election. 

The document, produced by the Governance and Legal Unit at Labour headquarters indicates that Labour feel they are unlikely to win in these  Parliamentary seats along with 94 others out of a total of 533 English seats.

All parties prioritise their campaign resources and it is little surprise that Surrey constituencies are not high on the Labour Party’s target list. But it is embarrassing for their prioritisation to be made public; it could be demoralising for local party activists and could encourage anti-Tory tactical voting.

But Guildford Labour, while confirming that the document is genuine, have reacted forcefully, rejecting the “non-priority” categorisation.

In Guildford, the Labour Party finished third at the last election in 2019 while the Liberal Democrats closed the gap with the Conservatives, finishing only 3,337 votes behind. The Labour vote decreased by 11 per cent from that obtained by Howard Smith in 2015.

Guildford General Election result 2019 – Wikipedia

The leak comes as the Liberal Democrats recently overturned a 19,000 majority in the by-election against the Conservatives in the Somerset seat of Somerton and Frome.

Conservative MPs Jeremy Hunt and Angela Richardson are expected to stand in Ash& Godalming and Guildford respectively.

Zöe Franklin the Lib Dem’s prospective Parliamentary candidate for Guildford said: “At the next election the choice in Guildford and our villages could not be easier, it’s a clear contest between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservative Party.

Zöe Franklin

“Even the Labour Party now seem to be admitting they can’t win here. After a stunning set of local election results in May and fourth successful by-election just last week, it’s clear residents are ready for a change.

“People are sick to their back teeth with being taken for granted by the Conservatives, this government has failed to tackle issues with our health service and take action on the cost of living crisis.

Sue Hackman

But Sue Hackman the election manager at Guildford Labour, speaking on behalf of its Executive responded: “Guildford Labour Party does not see itself as a low priority in any sense.

“We reject the label. We live here, we work here, we stand at every election, pay our own way, deliver our own manifestos and campaign throughout the year.

“Guildford is our top priority. It will make no difference to the way we vote on the budget because it has no relevance to it.

“Colleagues in Selby & Ainsty up against a 20,000 majority faced a bigger challenge than we do here, and won, so we never consider the odds too great.   We shall fight the general election with our usual gusto because only Labour can sweep away the Tories to form a new government.

“We want Guildford to be part of government, not just opposition. The Lib Dems can’t offer that.”

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Responses to Guildford and Ash & Godalming Constituencies Are Non-Priority for Labour

  1. Mark Bray-Parry Reply

    July 29, 2023 at 8:27 am

    Hold response from Lib Dems requested

    By “leaked”, does the Dragon mean the Labour Party published the list on their website, since that is what they did.

    It appears Labour made an active choice to make public the list with the phrasing. Quite why is anyone’s guess since it certainly negatively impacts local Labour Parties (CLPs) on the list. Is this an informal way of Labour supporting tactical voting by creating a list of constituencies where Labour voters can be encouraged to support other Parties? Or was it just clumsy wording to describe a standard process?

  2. Clare Reply

    August 1, 2023 at 10:03 pm

    This just demonstrates the ridiculousness of the First Past the Post political system.

    In places like Surrey you do not feel like you are voting for the person who will best represent you because they can say what they like – but in parliament they have to toe the party line.

    Equally you cannot even vote for which party you feel best represents you, because unless you want to vote for one of the two leading parties in your constituency your vote will have no impact on the final result.

    Instead you find yourself voting for or against the incumbent and in Surrey that is for Conservative (your current MP) or against Conservative (usually Liberal Democrats, as they have the best chance of beating the incumbent in most seats).

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