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Guildford Conservatives Suspend Member Because of His Letter to The Dragon

Published on: 7 Jul, 2023
Updated on: 9 Jul, 2023

Dennis Paul

By Martin Giles

A former Conservative borough councillor has been suspended from the party because of a letter he sent to The Guildford Dragon NEWS.

Dennis Paul, who represented Holy Trinity ward until May 2019 when he unsuccessfully stood in Worplesdon, has been told that the Executive Council of the Guildford Conservative Association has suspended his membership of the party “for a period of 18 months with immediate effect”.

The email continued: “The reason for this decision was that your letter published by The Dragon was inconsistent with the objects of the Association.

“Should you wish, you may apply to rejoin the Party from 16/12/2024.”

See: My View, As a Former Tory Councillor, of the Dragon Hustings

In the letter from Dennis Paul to The Dragon, published on April 23 in the run-up to the GBC elections, the former councillor reflecting on the Dragon’s GBC election hustings, concluded: “To be clear, my support shall be going to R4GV at this election in the hope they form a majority at the council.”

Cllr Matt Furniss

He also singled out for criticism Matt Furniss who was standing as a Conservative candidate for Pilgrims ward. Stating several examples Paul questioned the candidate’s track record and judgement. He also criticised the Liberal Democrats.

The letter resulted in an allegation made against Dennis Paul by the GCA that: “You criticised the political judgement of one candidate and the Association as a whole”.

Responding to the allegation, Dennis Paul wrote to the GCA saying his letter “was intended as constructive and in no way sought to undermine the local Association”.

Regarding his criticism of the now-elected Cllr Furniss he said: “I was criticising the political judgement of a person who I believed was placing his party out of step with the views of the electorate.  I emphasise the point ‘his party‘ because that is at the heart of my disagreement.  Not with the Party or Association, but the direction and style in which the Party is being led.”

He continued by claiming that his criticism was balanced by that he made of the Liberal Democrats.

Another claim was that the senior members of Residents for Guildford & Villages (R4GV) party was made up of, mostly, former Conservatives “disaffected by the leadership of the Council when our Party was last in Office at Guildford Borough Council”.

“There was little tolerance of others’ opinions despite [having] a large majority, and personalities [were] targeted for deselection or demotion.”

Paul named three councillors who left the party in 2018 to become Independents: Tony Rooth (demoted from the Executive), Bob McShee (deselected) and Nils Christiansen (deselected). Rooth and McShee successfully stood for R4GV in 2019.

He also listed those who he said had been Tory party members who joined R4GV: John Rigg, Bill Stokoe, Nikki Ackerley, Julian Lyon, and Gina Redpath. ”

“These Conservatives,” he said, “decided to follow a different leadership, not out of fear or deference but one of appeal and aspiration, and I would invite the Executive Council to consider whether they are any less Conservatives for doing so.”
Asked to comment, R4GV’s leader said: “I am sorry that Dennis Paul has been suspended from the Conservative Party.  It is a sign of great strength to call out behaviour that you feel is poor, especially when that behaviour comes from members of your own team, company or Party.
“Dennis was brave to speak out, and I’m sure he was doing what he thought was in the best interest of the wider Conservative Party.”
The Dragon asked the Guildford Conservative Association to say which Conservative membership or GCA rules it deemed Paul broke but a spokesperson said: “We do not comment on internal matters.”

Although Rule 4 of Conservative party membership allows for the expression of disagreement rule 7 disallows support of other parties or their candidates.

Dennis Paul has written to the GCA asking if he has any right of appeal, adding: “The primary objective of GCA is to win elections. My letter to The Dragon simply highlighted the inadequacy of its [GCA’s] political leadership which has been shown to be correct, given recent results and so many former Conservatives joining R4GV.”Going forward, I shall devote my energies campaigning for those worthy of office. That’s where real power is drawn.”

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Responses to Guildford Conservatives Suspend Member Because of His Letter to The Dragon

  1. Tom Barker Reply

    July 10, 2023 at 12:58 pm

    Hilarious. Someone has the presence of mind to criticise Cllr Matt Furniss and they get chucked out of the party.

    Tories at their best, campaigning for a long, long spell in opposition.

  2. Ben Paton Reply

    July 13, 2023 at 6:44 pm

    A ‘broad church’ or a ‘one party state’?

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