The ‘blue wall’ home counties are falling out of love with the Tory party

And that includes Waverley, Horsham, Guildford and Woking.

You can read The Guardian Article here.

The Liberal Democrats believe they can seize the affluent, pro-remain Conservative heartland at the next election. It is a genuine possibility if the local elections are anything to go by. Horsham and Guildford, Waverley and Woking have gone Lib Dem. The Conservative administration in Woking had a disastrous tenure, and now the council has gone bust.

Is it any wonder that SW Surrey MP Jeremy Hunt is writing to every Doug and Doris on his new patch of Godalming, Ash and Cranleigh’s eastern villages? He tells every man, woman and dog that he is ditching his SW Surrey constituency of Farnham for the greener pastures of Godalming Bramley and Cranleigh. He says due to the boundary changes, if you believe that, you will think that Nelson is about to get his eye back!

Yet, as The Guardian says,  this seeming cliché of Conservative fiefdoms is under concerted electoral attack. Fortress Waverley and Guildford are being besieged. The nearby village greens of Bramley and Cranleigh, once Tory strongholds, are in the crosshairs. The gravelled drives of Hascombe and Chiddingfold are no longer safe. Suddenly, no Tory stronghold in the area is deemed out of bounds.

“If you didn’t know any of the politics, you would probably assume this was a hardcore Tory place,” concedes Liberal Democrat Paul Follows,  “but almost all of these really clichéd Conservative places have not been so Conservative for a little while.”

Unlikely as it might once have seemed, Jeremy Hunt’s South West Surrey constituency – in Tory hands since its formation in 1983 – has now become one of the bricks in the “blue wall” of affluent, pro-remain Tory constituencies that the Lib Dems believe they can dislodge. As we have said, he has now ditched SW Surret believing the other side of Waverley is a safer bet.

 Attention on Hunt will only grow after the most obvious candidate for electoral defeat, the former deputy prime minister Dominic Raab, announced that he would not contest his more marginal Surrey constituency of Esher and Walton at the next election.

Back in 2017, when Paul Follows joined the Godalming town council, he was the only non-Conservative on it. Now the Tories have just two of 20 seats. Over the same period, the number of Tories on the local Waverley borough council has dwindled to 10 after the disastrous local election results last month. Waverley’s leader Paul Follows says that the chaos of Boris Johnson’s leadership, followed by the full-scale implosion of Liz Truss’s tenure, has catalysed a longer-term decay in the foundations of this blue wall mainstay. Hunt’s former 8,817-strong majority in SW Surrey was significant, but it is at risk should Rishi Sunak fail to reverse his party’s recent fortunes.

What of Ewhurst & Cranleigh’s sitting MP for Guildford, Angela Richardson?

She has already sold her Ewhurst home and moved into her new home in the constituency, having now been re-selected by the Guildford Con Association. There were, of course, no other candidates as under the Conservative system of selection, other candidates are only nominated if a sitting MP is deselected. Given her high-profile opposition to Boris Johnson’s leadership of the party last year, it is likely that support for Ms Richardson was not universal.

Angela Richardson celebrates her reselection in The Three Pigeons pub with members of the Guildford Constituency Association. She is already ignoring her constituents in the eastern villages. 

“she certainly isn’t responding to any of my letters, said the chairman of Alfold Parish Council,” recently.

The redrawn boundaries of the Guildford Parliamentary constituency mean that the seat might now be less safe for the Tories. Many villages to the south, down to Bramley and Cranleigh, are excluded. The villages east of Guildford are now included, including the Clandons and Horsleys, where opposition to the Conservative-led Local Plan and planning policy is high.

Guildford General Election Result 2019. Lib Dem Zoe Franklin reduced the Conservative majority to 3,000, but where will the 4,000 votes for the deselected Anne Milton go next time?Graphic Wikipedia

The Guildford seat is often regarded as the epitome of a “true blue” constituency, and since 1910, only Lib Dem Sue Doughty, in 2001, broke their dominance. But Guildford is now high on the Liberal Democrat’s “blue wall” target list.

However, Ms Richardson pushed aside any doubts that she would retain the Guildford seat as she reacted to confirmation of her selection. The highly confident Ms Richardson said 

“Absolutely delighted tonight to be readopted as the Conservative candidate to fight the next election on the new parliamentary boundaries in Guildford, and of course, we popped to the Three Pigeons afterwards to celebrate!”

“I believe it’s important to live in the constituency you both currently represent and want to represent in future, so all changed as I collected the keys for our new home in Guildford town centre today.

“Looking forward to commuting into Westminster on the train every day to represent you in Parliament and all the conversations I can have with residents as I continue to regularly knock doors between now and the next general election.”

The new Guildford parliamentary constituency includes areas to the borough’s east and excludes villages to the south.



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