Despite being a Labour stronghold, the Conservatives are targetting the Bassetlaw constituency and hoping divisions over Brexit will help their cause.
Labour won Bassetlaw in 1935, and a Labour MP has represented the constituency ever since. But also a pro-Brexit area, the previously safe Labour seat is typical of those which the Tories now have in their sights for this election.
More than 65% of people in Bassetlaw who voted in the EU referendum, voted for Brexit which means the Brexit Party, fielding a candidate in the area, could split the Labour vote.
John Mann, former popular Labour MP for Bassetlaw, also stood down as a candidate in this election, leading to uncertainty over how traditional Labour supporters may vote.
The candidates standing for election in Bassetlaw are:
Mr Brendan Clarke-Smith, Conservative
Brendan Clarke-Smith has previously stood for the party in both the 2014 and the 2019 European Parliamentary Elections, and also served as a Conservative councillor for Clifton in Nottingham where he grew up.
Earlier this year, he was elected to Newark & Sherwood District Council for the Boughton ward, narrowly beating his Labour rival. He sits on the council’s Economic Development Committee and its Policy & Finance Committee.
Although Mr Clarke-Smith is standing in Bassetlaw, his current address is registered as being in the village of Edwinstowe, which places him within the parliamentary constituency of Sherwood.
A former teacher, Mr Clarke-Smith was the first member of his family to attend university and he has spent time in Romania where he worked as the head of an international school. It was in Romania that he met his wife Andra who works as a doctor.
Bassetlaw is a key target seats for the Conservatives at this election and fits into their national strategy of targeting former Labour held seats in the North and Midlands that voted by a large majority to leave the European Union.
Mr Clarke-Smith will be hoping that his ‘leave’ credentials can propel him to office, having campaigned for the Vote Leave Campaign in 2016.
Much of the local party’s social media activity is focused on the Conservative Party’s national message of ‘Getting Brexit Done’, as well as highlighting concerns over Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
Helen Tamblyn-Saville, Liberal Democrat
Helen Tamblyn-Saville currently serves as the sole Liberal Democrat councillor on Bassetlaw District Council. She was first elected in May 2019 to represent the East Retford West ward and currently sits on the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
Mrs Tamblyn-Saville moved into the constituency in 2017 with her husband and young daughter and has been involved in the community both as a councillor and as the owner of a local children’s bookshop which she hopes to convert into a family hub for local residents.
She has previously worked as a project coordinator, both freelance and in education, as well as co-ordinating the 2013 London Debate Challenge.
The Liberal Democrats have historically done fairly poorly in Bassetlaw, which has been a safe Labour seat for many years with the Conservatives consistently in second.
While she may not be expecting to win the seat, Mrs Tamblyn-Saville will hope to increase the local Liberal Democrat vote share, which has plummeted to historic lows at the last two elections.
Her campaign message has been to stress her connection to the region as a local resident and, while Bassetlaw did vote by a majority to leave the European Union, she will hope that the Liberal Democrat’s national message of putting a stop to Brexit will help her to unite Remainers living in the constituency.
Debbie Solomons, Brexit Party
Born and raised in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, Debbie Solomans went to the University of Edinburgh before settling in Nottinghamshire 25 years ago.
Mrs Solomons and her husband have owned their own business for more than 20 years and have three children.
Before April this year, Mrs Solomons had never been involved in politics before but joined the Brexit Party because of frustrations with the “lies and backsliding on delivering Brexit.”
Mrs Solomons’ reasons for wanting to stand for election are to make a difference, fight for democracy and to “deliver the independence our people voted for.”
Mrs Solomons promises, that as an MP, she would stand up for local people and be a strong voice for Bassetlaw, whilst encouraging investment and bringing jobs to the area.
Her key pledges are to rejuvenate town centres such as Worksop and Retford, supporting a key Brexit Party policy to introduce 0% business rates on retail premises with the aim of encouraging business back to the high streets.
Keir Morrison, Labour Party
Keir Morrison is the candidate for the Labour Party in Bassetlaw. Having previously been a Trade Union representative, he is currently a Hucknall South councillor, with eight years’ experience in this role for Ashfield District Council.
A painter and decorator by trade, Mr Morrison currently works for the civil service.
He is hoping his local credentials will prove popular with voters as he has always lived in the area and is a keen Nottingham Forest fan.
Mr Morrison was selected as Labour’s candidate for Bassetlaw, supported Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, after the national executive de-selected the previous Labour candidate Sally Gimson.
Mr Morrison has committed to regenerating Bassetlaw’s high streets and bringing Labour’s Green Industrial Revolution to the area, by creating jobs and apprenticeships and putting Labour and the region at the centre of the fight against climate change.
He has also voiced his support for Labour’s plan to bring fast and free broadband to every home country, and he says he aims to make rural areas viable work locations and boost productivity.