By Harry Mottram: There have been last minute scrambles up and down the country as political parties complete their nomination papers for candidates in the election ahead of last Friday’s cut-off. In Axbridge’s area – the Wells and Mendip Hills constituency there are now seven hoping to replace James Heappey the outgoing Conservative MP. On Friday, June 7th, 2024, a new name appeared on the list of those standing – Craig Clarke of The Green in Winscombe. He has to be the most low profile candidate ever as there is nothing on social media or from a Google search to give a clue about him or what his manifesto might contain. He has been proposed and seconded with the list of 10 backers on the online form from the Returning Officer and it means he will also have stumped up the £500 deposit required.

He’s not the only Independent as Shepton Mallet Town Councillor Abi McGuire is running to be our next MP with adverts online, a leaflet campaign and a series of meetings planned spelling out her manifesto in detail. In Bath there was another last minute Independent standing – Councillor Colin Blackburn signed his papers just minutes before the deadline – while the last minute scamble has seen the Conservative candidate in Rotherham withdraw her papers on Friday leaving the Tories without a candidate. There have also been a number of ‘so-called single person’ short lists put forward by the main parties to ensure the leaders’ chosen loyalist has the best chance of being an MP rather than a local one chosen by the local party group.

The agreed wisdom is our constituency will be a fight between London based Meg Powell-Chandler for the Conservatives and Wells Councillor and former MP Tessa Munt for the Lib Dems. Meg has been photographed out canvassing with James Heappey last week while Tessa has been busy knocking on doors as she bids to return to Westminster. Can the Indpendents, the Green Party, Reform or Labour cut through and make headlines with a surprise win? We must wait until July 4th to find out. For more on the candidates see

With Craig joining the fight the final list of candidates in alphabetical order:

Craig Clarke, Independent.

Helen Himms, Reform Party.

Joe Joseph, Labour Party.

Abi McGuire, Independent.

Tessa Munt, Liberal Democrat.

Meg Powell-Chandler, Conservative.

Peter Welsh, Green Party.

Notes from Harry

In 2019 James Heappey had 33,336 votes with Tessa Munt on 23,345, Labour’s Kama McKenzie had 4,304, with Dave Dobbs independent on 373 and Susie Quatemass Motherworld Party on 270 votes. That gave the Conservatives a majority of 9,991 – meaning by any measure this would be seen as a safe seat for them despite the change of candidate. However so much has changed since then with the Brexit Business Deal, the Covid 19 pandemic and Boris Johnson and Liz Truss coming and going from 10 Downing Street – all now history. The Partygate Scandal and the Cost of Living Crisis plus the Truss/Kwarteng Mini Budget changed the fortunes of the Conservative Party for the worse. All of which makes the task of Meg Powell-Chandler to hold the seat that much harder. However in the weeks left of the campaign anything can happen and those with long memories like me of the 1970 and 1991 elections when Labour were favourites to win but in the end lost – will know nothing is certain in elections.


Like several towns and cities in the South West its parliamentary representation dates to 1295 when as part of the Wells constiuency it had two MPs. The Reform Act of 1867 changed this archaic representation and in 1885 the seat had just one MP as modern politics finally took over from the era of Whigs and Tories when Sir Richard Paget became the sole Coonservative MP. The first known or rather named MP was Nicholas Christesham in 1386 who along with Thomes Phelpes represented Wells and the area that included Axbridge. Apart from three occasions when either the Liberal Party or the Liberal Democrats won the seat the Conservatives have a long period of success since the 19th century in representing the area which has changed hugely over the years. At this election the new boundary takes in Yatton but leaves out Burnham-on-Sea meaning a slightly different electorate.


I will do my best to be objective. I cover professionally Bath for a newspaper which has not dissimilar dynamics to Wells – although the current Lib Dem MP Wera Hobhouse will have to do spectacularly badly to lose.

Axbridge News is edited by Harry Mottram for his own interest and those of residents.

Harry is a freelance journalist. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc