Although we live closer to Guildford than Dorking, our parliamentary constituency is the Dorking-centred Mole Valley where at the last general election the incumbent Tory MP Sir Paul Beresford was returned with a majority of 15,653, or 53% of the vote, making it the sixth safest Tory seat in the country. At that 2010 election the Lib Dems came second with about half of what Beresford polled, and Labour a poor third with 7% of the vote, one of which was mine. Well, at least they beat the loathsome Ukip whose 2,752 votes pushed them into fourth place ahead of the Greens’ 895. These are the only five parties standing this time.
So Beresford’s seat is as safe as houses, as is he when it comes to being a Tory MP – in Wikipedia it states that he is among a minority of backbench MPs never to have voted against the government. This probably explains why he wrote to me a few weeks ago expressing his support for fracking. The letter was in response to my having signed a petition against a method of extracting fossil fuel from the ground that not only strikes me as unsafe but also foolhardy insofar as I feel the government would be wiser to invest in other kinds of energy – but this wouldn’t help their friends in the oil industry who no doubt contribute significantly to party funds. Beresford would probably feel differently if the fracking was taking place within 100 yards of his home, but this is unlikely as I don’t believe he lives in the constituency anyway. Nowhere on the web can I find out exactly where he does live but he’s a practising dentist with a surgery in Putney for which he claims ‘second home expenses’, so he probably has another house somewhere else, probably elsewhere west of London. Also, figures have revealed that, during 2014, out of all the 650 MPs in House of Commons only four of them spent more time than him working outside Parliament which doesn’t inspire me with much confidence.
Whatever, I wouldn’t vote for him anyway, though it’s quite difficult to know who to vote for when you live in such a solid Tory constituency as this. In nearby Guildford the issue is complicated by the number of green GGG signs on the roads leading there, this evidently a one-issue party that is against the extension of the green belt into this part of Surrey. GGG stands for Guildford Greenbelt Group but they don’t have a candidate for Mole Valley, only in Guildford. It might split the Green vote there though it’s probably Tories who don’t want more homes built near them to house riff-raff from the cities so GGG might eat into the Tory vote too in Guildford and give the Lib Dems a fighting chance, especially as this is a marginal between them, with Labour again a poor third. Of course, this won’t trouble Beresford in Mole Valley, the part timer who follows the Tory line on every single issue.
There are signs everywhere promoting his cause. Driving in and around the Guildford-Dorking area last weekend I counted more than 50 blue signs and only one red Labour sign, strangely enough in Green Dene on the back road from the A25 towards East Horsley. I say strangely because the houses on either side of this road are all big detached affairs worth well over a million a pop, so what’s a Labour supporter doing in a place like this?
The political leanings of the area are reflected in the piles of newspapers in the village shop in nearby Shere: stacks of Mails and Telegraphs while the number of Guardians can be counted on the fingers of one hand. The shameless prejudice of the UK’s right-wing press is one of many things I don’t like about this election, all those headlines prophesying doom and gloom if Ed Milliband gets in. Is it really surprising that 100 rich businessmen wrote a letter to the Telegraph supporting the Tories? Well, they would wouldn’t they, to paraphrase Mandy Rice-Davies. Two weekends ago the Sunday Mail’s headline predicted that if Labour got in and allied themselves to the SNP, it would pre-empt the ‘greatest crisis since the abdication’. Leaving aside for a moment the fact that the abdication of Edward VIII probably affected less than 0.001% of the country anyway, the period in question includes World War Two, Profumo and the break-up of The Beatles (had to get my specialist subject in somewhere), so this is tosh of the highest order. It’ll be ‘Labour’s secret plan to assassinate royal baby’ next. Don’t their readers realise that the owners of the Daily Mail, Telegraph and Times (and Sun), respectively Viscount Rothermere, the billionaire Sark-dwelling Barclay twins and globe-trotting ogre Rupert Murdoch, are all multi-millionaire tax exiles whose support for the Tories merely reflects their own selfish financial interests. Doom and gloom for them more like. As for the Ukip supporting Daily Express, its owner Richard Desmond made his millions from TV porn channels; says it all really.
Another thing I don’t like is the imbalance in donations towards election expenses with the Tories winding up with far more money to spend than all the rest put together, the predictable result of their support from the rich. Election spending should be capped so as to even out the playing field in this regard, but this’ll never happen as the Tories would suffer the most. I certainly don’t believe that the NHS, the greatest social institution we have, is safe in their hands, and I’m a bit worried about the BBC too. I take the view that, like the Republicans in America, the British Tory party represents the interests of the richest 10% of the population, and they don’t really give a toss about the rest. I also think they’re soft on tax evasion, even if they won’t admit it. Come to think of it, apart from Dennis Skinner and Caroline Lucas, I don’t really believe much of what any politician says these days and the fact that none of them, especially Cameron, seem to want to interact with real voters and instead choose to appear at stage-managed events in front of their own supporters, is particularly galling, as is their tendency to prefer the company of primary school children and animals when TV cameras are trained on them. The other thing I don’t like about Cameron is that he never really answers a question, just twists it around so as to blather on with a pre-rehearsed sound bite promoting his austerity policies alongside fellow toff Gideon ‘George’ Osborne who seems think that wearing high visibility jackets and a hard hat makes him a man of the people.
If I thought Len Amos, the Labour candidate for Mole Valley, stood a chance against Beresford I’d vote for him but this time around a Green vote seems like a better way of supporting a cause I believe in. The Greens are the only party to put environmental issues – surely the biggest problem the whole world faces – at the very top of their agenda. Unfortunately this won’t be a vote winner until our world is either blazing like a torch or completely flooded, so even though Jacquetta Fewster, our local Green candidate, hasn’t a hope in hell’s chance of getting elected to Mole Valley, she’ll get my vote tomorrow.
Jacquetta Fewster, who looks like she's chilling out at Newlands Corner, a mile or three from where we live.