Kingston parliamentary candidates react to July general election announcement

By Oliver Monk

24th May 2024 | Local News

Six weeks of intense campaigning await Kingston's parliamentary candidates. (Photo: Oliver Monk)
Six weeks of intense campaigning await Kingston's parliamentary candidates. (Photo: Oliver Monk)

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced an early UK general election on Wednesday 22 May, to be held on 4 July.

With candidates across Kingston & Surbiton constituency gearing up for their six-week stint on the campaign trail, Nub News reached out to get their reactions on the PM's decision to call a snap election.

The final full list of local candidates is expected at the end of next week.

Ed Davey – Liberal Democrats

Sir Ed Davey. (Photo: Liberal Democrats)

Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Ed Davey, has been the constituency's MP since 1997 barring the two-year stint of Conservative rival James Berry from 2015 to 2017.

His lead only increased in the most recent 2019 general election, gaining around six-percent of the vote while Labour and Conservatives lost around 4-percent share each.

Mr Davey seems to have discounted Labour in the area despite the party's confidence, believing the upcoming election will be a "clear choice" between the Liberal Democrats and the "out-of-touch Conservatives". 

He added: "It's clear this Conservative Government has failed Kingston and Surbiton. After years of struggling to get a GP appointment, soaring rents and mortgages and our rivers being polluted by filthy sewage, it's time for this Government to be kicked out of office."

Along with fighting Thames Water sewage dumping as part of their long-running campaign across the region, Mr Davey was also proud of his work winning investment in Kingston Hospitals' A&E and maternity unit.

The candidate reiterated his ongoing support for Unilever's new Global HQ in Kingston town centre, as well as "more community police officers and CCTV to tackle crime".

However, the Lib Dem-majority Kingston Council has suffered a number of recent setbacks that could pose a risk to the MP's campaign locally.

Delays with the long-controversial replacement of the Kingfisher leisure centre after the first designs grew to cost nearly £35m more than the project's original budget have not gone ignored by Conservative and Independent opponents in the council.

A five-percent council tax increase in the borough's latest budget has also been slammed by Kingston Conservatives' leader, Cllr Rowena Bass, as "depressing".

Another blow came just yesterday, Thursday 23 May, when Lib Dem Cllr Stephanie Archer resigned from her seat in Hook and North Chessington ward.

Kingston Council say the ongoing CRE regeneration project will have its first tenants living there by the end of the year. (Photo: Oliver Monk)

Despite these setbacks, progress on the new Cambridge Road Estate development has the potential to restore some confidence with residents.

The party also still has a strong supporter base across south west London, with Lib Dem MPs in neighbouring seats like Richmond and Twickenham.

Helen Edward – Conservatives

Helen Edward. (Photo: Helen Edward)

The Conservative Party, the Lib Dems' historic rival in the constituency, will be represented by candidate Helen Edward.

A Chessington native, Ms Edward has found support with similar communities along the edges of the borough with her anti-ULEZ stance, as well as contributing to Kingston town centre as a member of Kingston Chamber of Commerce.

The candidate's commitment "to keep independent schools free from VAT" is also sure to strike a chord with a number of voters.

Her key local issues include opposition to an "ugly [and] tall" 17-storey tower block proposed near Surbiton Station, and advocacy for improvements to the Malden Centre following the notorious Kingfisher replacement project – which she describes as "an appalling failure" by the Lib Dems.

Ms Edward is optimistic that the national Conservative government has done enough to sway voters, telling Nub News: "Inflation has returned to its normal level and the economy is turning a corner. 

"It is the Conservative government that has transformed our country for the better over the last 14 years, and the choice at this election is clear."

She continues: "As one of our residents in Kingston, you know that whether it is Labour or the Lib Dems, the result would be the same – a weakened, less secure Britain, our economic growth put at risk and the bright prospects of future generations thwarted."

"Now I'm asking you to put your trust in me to represent your interests in parliament," concluded Ms Edward.

Eunice O'Dame – Labour

Kingston and Surbiton Labour Party with Eunice O'Dame (second from the right). (Photo: Labour Party)

Labour has put forward Croydon Councillor Eunice O'Dame as their candidate for Kingston & Surbiton, announcing the decision on Thursday 23 May.

While Nub News has not yet spoken to Ms O'Dame herself, we have received a party statement from Kezia Coleman, chair of the Kingston and Surbiton Labour Party.

The statement reads: "The Prime Minister has finally announced the next general election. The Tories have failed the public, and an incoming Labour government offers a chance for a fresh start after years of turmoil and neglect."

The party maintains "Kingston and Surbiton is between Labour and the Lib Dems, with the Tories trailing in a distant third," echoing their confidence after narrowly beating the Tories for second place in the London Assembly's South West during the May elections by 675 votes.

"A vote for the Lib Dems is essentially a blank cheque because when they say 'vote for them to keep the Tories out,' they fail to clarify that this applies only to the seat, not the government," continues the statement, in direct opposition to the claims of Kingston's Lib Dems. 

It adds: "We all remember what happened in 2010 with the coalition. Only Labour can form an alternative government. Only Labour can keep the Tories out of Downing Street. Only Labour can bring the much-needed change."

Ms Coleman herself stated: "Outside of elections, we support local people and work with the national party to help shape the policies this country needs. Now it's time for Labour to implement them."

Yvonne Tracey – Kingston Independent - Justice for Sub-postmasters

Yvonne Tracey. (Photo: Kingston Independent – Justice for Sub-postmasters)

Yvonne Tracey, one of three councillors in the Kingston Independent Residents Group, is standing as the Kingston Independent – Justice for Sub-postmasters candidate.

Living in New Malden her whole life, the deputy postmistress' candidacy has long-been in the works, making headlines for standing directly against Ed Davey over his involvement in the Post Office scandal.

She recently told Nub News: "I am not a politician, and I never will be. I'm standing as a local grandmother, to put honesty and integrity back into this country."

"Like you, I want justice for all my former Post Office colleagues and I will fight for them as hard as I will for you – if I was lucky enough to be elected your MP. People have been let down for too long by all the parties."

As the grandmother of a disabled child – grandson David – Ms Tracey has also criticised the current Conservative government for ignoring family carers and "the remarkable job" they do.

Much like Labour, Ms Tracey and her team say "the Conservatives out of the running in Kingston and Surbiton".

"It's time for a change. The Conservatives are out of the race in Kingston and Surbiton, with no councillors and no chance of winning. This is local people's chance to say there is a better way than the old parties," concluded the candidate.

Debojyoti Das – Green Party

Debojyoti Das. (Photo: Debojyoti Das)

The Green Party has put forward anthropologist Debojyoti Das as their candidate in Kingston & Surbiton.

Dr Das, who is currently a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, says he is looking to build on his campaign work during the recent local elections.

The New Malden resident of 11 years told Nub News: "It was no surprise to me that the general election was finally announced by the PM after their dismal performance in the local election. 

"I am relieved that this nonperforming Conservative government is almost over."

He added: "Greens are [an] anti-austerity, pro-peace vote in South West London."

Dr Das says his working leading campaigns "for social justice, equality, diversity, and inclusion" in an academic setting will help him "challenge the business-as-usual attitude upheld by the major political parties".

Many of his key issues are environmental, like opposing Thames Water's Teddington Direct Water Abstraction scheme and supporting the Save Seething Wells campaign.

His statement also outlines continuing support for public transport, "more cycle lanes that are planned in consultation with local residents", affordable low-rise housing, and a council tax cap.

For the area's hotbed issues, Dr Das says he keen to support local high streets with business rate reform for small businesses, along with holding Kingston Council to account to ensure the completion of the Kingfisher's replacement. 

"It is crucial that we have at least two leisure centres in the borough where our children can learn to swim," he said.

Other prospective candidates can contact us at [email protected] to have their reactions included in the article.

     

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