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‘We Have the Wind in Our Sails’ Say Lib Dems But MP Says They’ve Put Guildford in the Doldrums

Published on: 22 Jul, 2023
Updated on: 22 Jul, 2023

Lib Dem candidate Zoe Franklin and Angela Richardson MP

By Martin Giles

Guildford’s prospective Liberal Democrat candidate for the next general election is proclaiming her party’s optimism in the wake of this week’s by-election results.

Zöe Franklin has said the party’s victory in Somerton and Frome shows that she and her party have the “wind in our sails.”

But continuing the nautical theme, the incumbent MP for Guildford Angela Richardson has responded saying the Lib Dems have “put Guildford right in the doldrums with scant hope of a breeze”.

And Guildford Labour chipped in to remind us that their party is the favourite to form the next government.

Guildford General Election result 2019 – Wikipedia

The Lib Dems overturned a large Conservative majority of 19,000 in Somerton and Frome on Thursday (July 20) with a swing of 29 per cent. In Guildford, they would need a swing of a little under 16 per cent to overtake the 26,317 votes secured by the Conservatives in 2019.

In addition to the national situation and Labour’s clear lead in the polls, two major local factors will be at play. Anne Milton, the former Conservative minister who was deselected and stood as an Independent, had 4,300 electors vote for her in 2019; so who will they support next time, and what effect will the constituency boundary changes have?

Deltapoll conducted 14th-17th July 2023 Sample: 1,000 adults in Great Britain. Labour leads by twenty-four percentage points. Con 24% (-4), Lab 48% (+2), Lib Dem 11% (+2), Other 17% (-1) (Changes from 7th-10th July 2023)

Franklin said: “Having knocked on many doors during the [Somerton] by-election, I hear the same thing there as I do across Guildford constituency.  People are telling me they’re sick of having to wait weeks to see a GP while seeing their mortgages and rents go through the roof.

“It’s clear that at the next election here, it will be a two-horse race here between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives.”

Unlike the Lib Dems, Richardson raises of some of the local planning issues which have had such a major influence in local elections but she primarily focuses on the borough council’s recent financial record.

She said: “The Liberal Democrats need to answer some questions closer to home.

“They have been in a position of leadership on the council for over four years. In March, accounting errors dating back to 2021, which have significantly and detrimentally altered the council’s financial situation, were discovered and notified to appropriate persons.

See: No Individual Responsible for £10m Accounting Error Says Former Council Leader

“Who was notified? Liberal Democrats promised openness and transparency. Why was this information not more widely shared with other councillors, indeed with the public before the local elections? Who was responsible for covering this up? Why did the Liberal Democrats think it was okay to leave the accounts unaudited for so many years?

“Why were millions returned to the central government of Right to Buy receipts? Why were millions spent on costly consultants to essentially repeat work that had already been done by the previous Conservative administration arriving at the same conclusions? What a waste!

“Why were they looking at imposing a congestion charge on residents? Was it straight out of Sadiq Khan’s playbook on the unpopular ULEZ expansion, penalising hard-working residents to cover over their failures?

“Why did the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary spokesperson put out a leaflet taking credit for the North Street Development weeks before her own councillors on the Planning Committee woke up to the strength of the residents’ feelings, U-turned and refused it?

“Did the Liberal Democrat spokesperson know about the dire financial situation of Guildford Borough Council and if so, when?

“Is this why they didn’t focus on local issues in their campaign in May, glossing over their failure to deliver any of the social housing they promised or the lack of financial scrutiny they were elected by residents to provide?

“The Liberal Democrats might claim to have wind in their sails but they’ve put Guildford right in the doldrums with scant hope of a breeze.”

A spokesperson for Guildford Labour was keen to mention their by-election success saying: “The Labour Party also pulled off a massive victory in Selby and Ainsty [North Yorkshire], a town very similar to Guildford. This was the largest swing of any main opposition party since 1945.

“The Liberal Democrats failed to come close to winning in Guildford last time despite a split Tory vote.

“If the voters of Guildford are seeking to have an MP who is in government the only choice is to vote Labour in the next election.

“Why settle for a choice between two parties who will be in opposition?”

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Responses to ‘We Have the Wind in Our Sails’ Say Lib Dems But MP Says They’ve Put Guildford in the Doldrums

  1. David Humphries Reply

    July 22, 2023 at 7:45 pm

    I agree, it’s quite disgraceful how the Lib Dems have run the council.

    The North Street fiasco and the £10 million accounting error make it quite clear they couldn’t run a sweet shop.

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    July 22, 2023 at 9:25 pm

    I do wish they would work for the good of the country and not for their parties’ political whims.

    We need our farms, we need to travel, we need our borders.

    • Stuart Barnes Reply

      July 24, 2023 at 8:29 am

      Hear, hear.

  3. Christian Holliday Reply

    July 23, 2023 at 9:05 pm

    It’s probably safe to assume the accounting error will be the final nail in the coffin for the Lib Dem pledge to build 3,000 council houses.

    Christian Holliday is a former Conservative borough councillor.

  4. Susan Fox Reply

    July 24, 2023 at 3:20 pm

    The reason for Guildford being in the doldrums is 13 years of Tory misrule.

    There are the after effects of Brexit, for which the majority here did not vote; the slow recovery of the NHS from Covid with an exhausted, underpaid and ignored workforce; the refusal of ministers to talk to anyone who could be called a ‘public servant’; and all the lies told time and time again.

    House price growth here has rocketed but how on earth does anyone get on the housing ladder? And there isn’t any social housing available.

    Let’s get real, the only growth is in food banks, alledgedly the fifth largest economy. There are so many little things that get to us daily but there is no hope offered by Labour who seem to lack the ability to keep their word for more than five minutes.

    And don’t forget climate change – what happened to all those words of hope after COP 26?

    • S Collins Reply

      July 25, 2023 at 9:49 am

      It’s as if the 2010-2015 coalition never happened.

    • John Perkins Reply

      July 26, 2023 at 8:34 am

      It often seems as though the main opposition parties have agreed to sing from the same hymn sheet. “13 years of Tory misrule” they cry, as though, if enough of them say it, people might believe it to be true.

      Were the Tories responsible for Covid? Their response to it might have been pitiable, almost comical, yet the opposition did not oppose the measures, rather, they called for worse. Were the Tories responsible for the financial crisis? As Labour were in power at the time it requires an impossible stretch of the imagination to blame Conservatives for it. Whilst their way of dealing with it may have been less than perfect, there is no sign that any other party would have done any better.

      It’s lazy to repeat the old canard regarding the effects of Brexit without providing at least some detail to back it up. And it’s profoundly undemocratic to talk of the majority here when the referendum applied to the whole country.

      The NHS has been struggling for at least 40 years and Labour did not improve it when they were in power for a similar period of time.

      Supermarkets used to throw away food and some people rooted through skips to get it. Now people can visit a food bank to obtain that same food without breaking the law or demeaning themselves. Food banks improve the lives of those that need them and reduce what would otherwise be wasted – they are a positive development and should not be used as a measure of poverty.

      Finally, it is utterly absurd to suggest the current Government could do anything about climate change and especially so to think it might have been able to make any difference in less than two years since COP26.

  5. Susan Fox Reply

    July 26, 2023 at 2:07 pm

    No it happened but we’ve learnt from our mistake unlike some.

    • John Perkins Reply

      July 27, 2023 at 8:41 am

      The policies implemented during the coalition and agreed by the Liberal Democrats were all due to “Tory misrule”, then?

      Are tuition fees and a social media job good examples of Deputy Prime Minister Clegg, learning from mistakes?

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