JUNE 10, 2024

General Election News. By Harry Mottram. As the United Kingdom is set to head to the polls on July 4 for the general election, nine candidates for different political parties including two independents have thrown their hats into the ring in Bath just before the deadline last Friday at 4pm.

When an election is called MPs no longer become MPs but candidates if they are not standing down. Bath is currently represented by Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse, having defeated Conservative Ben Howlett in 2017 and, she was re-elected in 2019 with over 54% of the vote.

She will be emboldened by a decisive Liberal Democrat victory in the local elections, which saw them win a majority of wards.

Wera Hobhouse is a very visible MP locally and has asked large numbers of questions in parliament of Government ministers on a range of issues including those relating to women and girls. Her private members bill to amend the Sexual Offences Act was eventually successful to add the offence of upskirting to the law.

Conservative challenger James Wright is hoping to return the seat to the Tories who have held the seat from 1931 to 1992 when Don Foster for the Lib Dems was victorious. Ben Howlett held the seat for the Conservatives in 2015.

As a Somerset farmer James Wright pitches himself as friendly to the business community and as a strong critic of the current Liberal Democrat controlled Council for their policies on traffic, transport and cuts to local services.

Dan Bewley for Labour will be hoping to increase their share of the vote but pundits suggest he is the outsider in the election. Older Bathonians will recall when Bath had several Labour Councilors and will point to Labour’s Clare Moody winning the recent Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) election. With a national swing to Labour it cannot be ruled out that he could do very well, since Labour are now the official opposition on the Council.

Reform UK’s Theresa Hall will be hoping to pick up the votes of those who are unhappy with the way Brexit has worked out and inherit the support of UKIP and the Brexit Party.

Last time the Green Party in Bath entered an electoral agreement with the Lib Dems not to stand but now their candidate Dominic Tristram will have a chance to build on the strong showing of the Greens in the recent PCC election and local Council elections.

As a Bath and North East Councillor for Westmorland in Bath Colin Blackburn is a serious candidate who works within the local community (together with Cllr June Player) and he has raised the issues of student accommodation, litter and dog mess, plus dropped kerbs and anti-social behaviour for residents with the council.

If successful on July 4th though it is problems of supplying weapons to Israel, the dangers of the Ukraine War spilling into Estonia and the UK’s struggling economy that may tax him.

There are two other independent candidates with one in the shape of Bill Blockhead. He is a comedy candidate and he has entered the fray as a humorous alternative with policies that includes leaving the solar system by 2028. We know nothing at this point of A.N.O.N. the other independent other then they have an address in Bath.

A ninth candidate is at least a member of a known political party. Matthew Alford is standing for the Workers Party of Britain – whose best known candidate is George Galloway who champions the cause of an independent Palestine. The party is as the title suggests socialist in nature with nationalisation of utilities, an increase in workers rights and free public transport as part of its policies.

At the last election the results were:

Wera HobhouseLiberal Democrat28,41954.5%7.2%
Annabel TallConservative16,09730.9%-4.9%
Mike DaviesLabour6,63912.7%-1.9%
Jimi OgunnusiThe Brexit Party6421.2%1.2%
Bill BlockheadIndependent3410.7%0.7%

Majority 12,322

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