New Guildford MP draws a line under Conservative rule in acceptance speech

Zöe Franklin, the new MP for Guildford, at Guildford Spectrum Leisure Centre. (Credit: Emily Dalton/LDRS)Zöe Franklin, the new MP for Guildford, at Guildford Spectrum Leisure Centre. (Credit: Emily Dalton/LDRS)
Zöe Franklin, the new MP for Guildford, at Guildford Spectrum Leisure Centre. (Credit: Emily Dalton/LDRS)
For the first time since 2001, Guildford has a Liberal Democrat MP. Taking to the stand for her acceptance speech, Zoe Franklin announced herself as part of the transforming political landscape.

“It’s very clear that people across the UK have chosen change,” Mrs Franklin said in Guildford Spectrum Leisure Centre sports hall. “In Guildford, they have chosen change.” After seven years of campaigning and three elections, she defeated incumbent Conservative Angela Richardson by 8,500 votes and took a chunky 47% of the vote share.

“From the very start of this election, the signs were clear that it would be different,” Mrs Franklin said in her speech on Friday morning, July 5. ”Right across Guildford and our villages, local people have made it clear to me that after 14 years of a conservative government, they were fed up with being failed and they wanted a change of government and an MP. Today that change has come”

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Distancing herself from the previous administration, Mrs Franklin made no reference to the work of the previous MP. Rather, she emphasised her premiership would reach wider and deeper into Guildford. “For too long there have been areas of our constituency that have gone unheard,” she said. “They have my assurance that this changes with this result.”

Zöe Franklin, the new MP for Guildford, making her acceptance speech at Guildford Spectrum Leisure Centre. (Credit: Emily Dalton/LDRS)Zöe Franklin, the new MP for Guildford, making her acceptance speech at Guildford Spectrum Leisure Centre. (Credit: Emily Dalton/LDRS)
Zöe Franklin, the new MP for Guildford, making her acceptance speech at Guildford Spectrum Leisure Centre. (Credit: Emily Dalton/LDRS)

Having lived in Guildford for 25 years, served as a counsellor for seven years, Mrs Franklin said she is “incredibly humbled” to be Guildford’s MP. “I have always said that if elected as MP I would be accessible, community focussed, an MP who listens, acts and is a strong voice on your behalf in Westminster.”

Under new management

Wasting no time, Mrs Franklin set out her priorities and claimed “the work starts immediately”. She acknowledged the difficulties ahead both in Westminster and the country as a whole.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) afterwards, Mrs Franklin set out her priorities. She said initially her focus will be around holding Thames Water to account locally with sewage issues and water supply. Increasing GP numbers and addressing problems of NHS dentists was also on Mrs Franklin’s list of priorities, with the Liberal Democrats having GPs and NHS healthcare as a key part in their manifesto.

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“Something I’m really passionate about is scrapping the two-child benefit cap,” Mrs Franklin zaid. “We need a fairer system to support families.” The two-child benefit cap, which restricts Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit to the first two children per household, was brought in by the Conservative government in 2017.

Campaigners have long called for it to be abolished on the grounds it would lift thousands of children out of poverty. Keir Starmer, the new Prime Minister, has also faced pressure to remove the cap but said he cannot make “unfunded promises”.

A local voice on a national stage

Fitting herself in the national picture, Mrs Franklin spoke into the incoming Labour landslide. She said: “It is up to the new government to deliver [change]. And I promise you, I will be holding them to account, along with my many Lib Dem colleagues. We will make sure that they deliver.”

Making up one of the 71 new Lib Dem seats in Parliament (a jump of 63) Mrs Franklin will not be on her own. Unable to form the official opposition to the government, Lib Dems will still be competing for the limelight.

When quizzed about how Mrs Franklin would do this as a Lib Dem MP in a Labour majority government, she said: “My focus will always be my constituents first, the people of Guilford in our villages.”