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Guildford MP And Local Conservatives Survey Guildford Residents

Published on: 2 Feb, 2021
Updated on: 4 Feb, 2021

By Hugh Coakley

A Conservative survey of Guildford residents has received mixed reactions from competing political parties in Guildford. 

The survey sent out by Guildford’s “Angela Richardson MP and your local Conservatives”, uses a similar approach to the recent GBC survey on budget priorities. It is multiple choice and there is no opportunity for a respondent to add their views on the issues raised or explanations for the choices made.

Questions were on protecting jobs, NHS services, tackling crime and local priorities. A final question asked residents how they voted in the 2018 general election and how they would vote in the next local election.

There was no question on climate change even though a 2020 United Nations Development Programme survey of 1.2  million people in 50 countries found that 64% of participants (81% in the UK) saw climate change as an emergency requiring urgent responses.

Guildford Residents’ Survey (front page).

The Dragon asked Ms Richardson how the results of the survey would be used including whether she would feel constrained by the survey results when voting in Parliament.

We also asked why climate change wasn’t included as a question.

Other parties supported the use of surveys among other methods as a means of finding out their residents concerns.

Zoe Franklin, Guildford’s Lib Dem parliamentary spokesperson, said: “We run residents surveys at least once a year and have done so for many, many years. Our current residents’ survey on Covid recovery priorities can be found at:

“Our councillors and campaigners also speak to people on their doorstep (although this currently isn’t possible due to the pandemic), make telephone calls to residents, where we have telephone numbers, our councillors hold virtual and in-person residents surgeries, and I regularly interact with local residents by email, letter and on social media.

“It’s good to see the Conservatives taking an interest in what residents think, but as a team we find it puzzling that this in itself is newsworthy given that The Dragon has never run an article reporting on our regular Lib Dem residents surveys before.

“Multiple choice questions can be useful in getting a rough sense of people’s views, but lack nuance. Our surveys always leave space for people to write in their views in detail.”

Guildford Residents’ Survey (second page).

Chair of the Guildford Labour Party, Brian Creese, said: “The survey seems to me to have two purposes – to identify potential supporters and harvest their email addresses for further communications and to try and set an agenda which is in her interest.

“Guildford has a very low crime rate compared to almost everywhere else in the country. Yet one question asks: “Which TWO of the following are you most concerned about in your local neighbourhood?”

Response options include: knife crime, burglary, speeding and anti-social behaviour. These are real issues of course, but unlikely to be top of most people’s priorities in a town which is experiencing catastrophic unemployment and rapidly escalating levels of deprivation.

“Biased surveys like this one pretend to answer the clarion call of being a listening politician while doing nothing of the kind. Our MP has already shown that she only listens to those who share her views, is unlikely to ever vote against this government however wrong it may be and has little understanding of the lives of those who live in Central Guildford.”

A spokesperson for R4GV said: “R4GV believes that surveys are one of a number of means of assessing how people in an area feel on particular topics, but they’re only one of many.

“The Conservative survey is clearly a generic product of Central Office (there’s no mention of local groups and parties) which is effectively an election communication hiding in a survey. Surrey County Council elections are coming up after all.

“This survey suggests what issues Surrey Conservatives are going to promote during the election – maybe the results will influence the weighting given to issues in a particular area.”

A spokesperson for the Guildford Conservative Association said: “The survey was produced by Guildford Conservatives towards the end of last year. Due to lockdown restrictions meaning that political parties are unable to hand-deliver literature, these are not currently being distributed.

“However, I understand that a handful was sent out in the post to known contacts with some other literature from one of our councillors.”

We asked Angela Richardson and the Green Party for a comment but have not had a response at the time of publication.

Hugh Coakley is a member of Extinction Rebellion

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Responses to Guildford MP And Local Conservatives Survey Guildford Residents

  1. Ian Nicholson Reply

    February 2, 2021 at 12:11 pm

    Harvesting data and contacts are the clear aim of this survey and it doesn’t seem to be a genuine attempt to listen to opinions. It is scary how much data and algorithms can manipulate an electorate – door to door canvassing is passe – just get an army of people at computers – they don’t even have to be in this country.

    It is disappointing that our MP has not listened and taken views of her constituency seriously (including many Conservative voters) in order to represent us in Westminster. It appears as if her first priority and ambition is keeping sweet with the party machine.

    There are some independent Conservative MPs but after the last cull, they are very thin on the ground. We are being played by a highly sophisticated, data-led infrastructure.

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    February 2, 2021 at 8:43 pm

    It is always easy to criticise. I phoned the London number at 10am on Monday and received a response on Tuesday.

    It just depends on the subject raised. Asking our MP’s office when you are getting your jab is not a good question to ask. Asking when we will run out of drinking water is.

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