Philip Dunne has hit the road in his van to defend his 19,286 majority in the Ludlow constituency. First elected in 2005, he faces some strong challengers. Heather Kidd is again standing for the Lib Dems. Hilary Wendt is on a repeat performance for the Greens. And former Telford Council leader Kuldip Sahota is being brought in by Labour to replace Julia Buckley, who has gone north to fight against Daniel Kawczynski in Shrewsbury & Atcham.
Nationally and locally, this is going to be an interesting election. There has been a chaotic political choreography underway as candidates have stood aside or were told to stand down to improve the chances of Remain or Leave leaning candidates. Parties are setting out their stalls, not just on Brexit, but also on the many other big issues that have been delegated to second rank in politics for far too long.
Philip Dunne’s views on Brexit are those of the government of the day. He campaigned with David Cameron to remain in the EU. He has since voted with Theresa May and Boris Johnson to get Britain out of the union.
Dunne is well established in the Ludlow constituency but that doesn’t mean he can’t be unseated. It is a big challenge, but we have three strong candidates to reduce if not overturn his majority.
Let’s begin with the new guy on the block. Kuldip Sahota was a former leader of Telford and Wrekin Council. I had a lot of respect for the way he managed that role – which is not the same as saying I always agreed with him. He remains a councillor for Ketley, the home of the Shropshire Star.
But why is he coming from the urban parish of Telford to try to get elected in one of the most rural areas in the country? The answer probably lies further north in Shrewsbury (below).
How will Kuldip fare in his transition from urban Telford to a rural constituency that sprawls from west of Bishop’s Castle to east of Bridgnorth? Can he adapt to an area dominated by market towns, small villages and almost invisible hamlets? We’ll know in four weeks’ time.
Heather Kidd is well known to almost everyone in South Shropshire. A long standing councillor, and a unitary councillor since Shropshire Council was created in 2009, she is well placed to pick up votes from the Lib Dem bounce back that is well underway. Her strength as a councillor with a passion for rural Shropshire will count in her favour.
Hilary Wendt from Lydbury North is standing again for the Green Party.
Shrewsbury & Atcham
Like Philip Dunne, Daniel Kawczynski was first elected in 2005. A strong Brexiteer he has lobbied the hard right government of Poland to ensure that Britain exits the EU without delay. He seems to be intellectually entangled with Europe while denying the UK should have a top seat at the table.
There are three strong candidates trying to end Daniel Kawczynski’s tenure.
For the Lib Dems, we have Nat Green. A Shropshire unitary councillor, he is strongly committed to Shrewsbury, Shropshire and a greener future.
Laura Davies, who had twice stood against Daniel Kawczynski, was summarily removed from Shrewsbury & Atcham, because she held strong opinions on the future of health services in the county and didn’t live in the constituency. No one was surprised when former Ludlow Labour candidate Julia Buckley, a resident of Bridgnorth, stepped into Laura’s shoes. It looked like it was always meant to be.
Julian Dean is up for the Green Party. And Hannah Locke, probably the youngest person to be standing in our area in this election, is standing as an independent.
Owen Paterson. You love or hate this climate change sceptic. An old school ardent Brexiteer, if he were to lose his seat, I am sure Jacob Rees Mogg will struggle up from his couch to give him a job reference.
He is being challenged by Helen Morgan for the Lib Dems, Graeme Curry for Labour and John Adams for the Greens. Robert Jones is the Shropshire Party candidate, representing a political party that is little more than a week old.
Lucy Allan will be aiming to retain her seat which Kuldip Sahota narrowly missed out on in 2017. Given the very small margin, Allen won by 720 votes, many will be surprised that Kuldip is not standing. But the world of politics and selection of candidates is often mysterious.
She is opposed by Shana Roberts for the Lib Dems and Katrina Gilman for Labour.
Mark Pritchard is standing again for the Conservatives. Standing against him are Thomas Janke for the Lib Dems, Dylan Harrison for Labour and Tim Dawes for the Greens.