Fringe Box



Local Tory Parties’ Silence on Spooner Split Seems to Say, ‘Least Said, Soonest Mended’

Published on: 6 Jul, 2020
Updated on: 8 Jul, 2020

By Martin Giles

Former GBC leader Paul Spooner’s announcement of a split in the remaining eight-member Conservative council group has more than ruffled party feathers.

One Guildford Tory told The Dragon: “The statement in his press release that says the four local party associations support the move is absolute bollocks.” (See: Leadership Issue Forces Break Up of Guildford Borough Tories).

Tory Group Split

All the associations have failed to respond to questions about the impact and repercussions of the split. One unconfirmed report claimed some sort of mediation between the two groups is to be attempted.

The breakaway four come from three parliamentary constituencies Surrey Heath (Cllrs Spooner and Eyre), Woking (Cllr Bilbe) and Mole Valley (Cllr Billington).

Political party association boundaries align with Parliamentary constituency, rather than borough, boundaries. No Conservative councillors at GBC come from the Guildford Conservative Association area.

The three associations with councillors involved, plus Guildford’s, and all four respective MPs, Angela Richardson (Guildford), Michael Gove (Surrey Heath), Jonathan Lord (Woking) and Sir Paul Beresford (Mole Valley) were asked:

  1. Is it true that the local Conservative Associations supported Cllr Spooner’s creation of a new “Conservative group at GBC”, as claimed?
  2. Did he seek your advice before the announcement?
  3. Will his group members be allowed to stay within the party?
  4. What will happen at future local elections?
  5. Will Cllr Spooner’s “Conservative Independent” group be allowed to stand unchallenged by official Conservative candidates?

But the only response received was from Sir Paul Beresford, known to be a critic of Cllr Spooner. He said: “I understand Mole Valley Conservative Association had not given support for this new “Conservative Independent” group”, and he confirmed he had not been approached to give advice.

To the question, would members of the breakaway group be allowed to stay within the party? Sir Paul responded: “This is up to The Conservative Party. As I understand the rules, if an individual belongs to another party, other than the Conservative Party, this is incompatible.”

And as for future elections? “It would be my wish that, as normal, the Conservative Party will put up a full slate of candidates in the next local election including the Guildford Borough Council wards in the Mole Valley Constituency.”

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Responses to Local Tory Parties’ Silence on Spooner Split Seems to Say, ‘Least Said, Soonest Mended’

  1. George Potter Reply

    July 6, 2020 at 10:30 pm

    One small point of correction. The Conservative and Labour parties organise themselves based on constituency boundaries. In Surrey, all other national political parties organise themselves based upon local authority boundaries.

    George Potter is a Lib Dem borough councillor for Burpham

  2. Martin Elliott Reply

    July 6, 2020 at 11:24 pm

    I think what is more important than internal party association spats, is what these councillors plan to do, if anything, within Guildford Borough Council and its ongoing business.

    Party policies or not, will they interfere deliberately or otherwise with ongoing business.

    For example, did they represent and pressurise on behalf of residents the Ash area ‘hot spots’ reconsideration (or just delays)?

  3. Winifred Paine Reply

    July 7, 2020 at 3:51 pm

    I am not surprised at the Mole Valley lot who voted to put a much housing as possible in Ash.

    • Jules Cranwell Reply

      July 9, 2020 at 7:23 am

      And the Ash and Tongham Tory “lot” voted to put many more houses to the east of the borough.

  4. Tay-Jarl Andessen Reply

    July 7, 2020 at 4:16 pm

    One further small point of correction, Surrey Heath’s MP is Michael Gove, not Andrew.

    Editor’s note. Apologies for our error. Now corrected.

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