This article is the first of a series of six.
Voters across parts of the Harrogate district will head to the polls next Thursday (July 20), when Selby and Ainsty holds a by-election triggered by last month’s resignation of Conservative MP Nigel Adams.
Most of the Selby and Ainsty constituency lies beyond our district’s borders – it stretches almost as far as Goole and Doncaster – but its northern end encompasses Huby, Follifoot, Spofforth and some of the villages in the Vale of York, such as Tockwith, Green Hammerton and Long Marston.
With 13 candidates, there’s a broad field to choose from — but who are they, and what do they believe?
Over the coming week, we’ll be spotlighting two or three each day, giving constituents the opportunity to read about the people who wish to represent them at Westminster – in their own words.
Taking their surnames in alphabetical order, we start today with Andrew Gray, an independent, and Claire Holmes, who is standing for the Conservatives.
Tomorrow: Mike Jordan, Yorkshire Party, and Dave Kent, Reform UK.
Andrew Gray, Independent
A Harrogate-based solicitor who founded his firm, Truth Legal, in 2012 on the principle that everyone should have access to affordable legal advice.
“Annoyed with MPs who put party before constituents? Narked, that MPs don’t listen? Frustrated, that all our institutions are broken, exploited by ne’er-do-wells?
“Empowered by you, I am your only solution.
“Intuitively, you know that we can’t go on like this. We are the greatest country on earth; North Yorkshire, the greatest county. Great, because we are usually first, unafraid to go it alone. Think about it: the Industrial Revolution; parliamentary democracy; the end of slavery; foundation of the NHS; creators of football, rugby, golf and tennis; alone in WW2; creators of the computer, and more besides.When we innovate, we succeed.
“You have a choice: more of the same old failed politics, or something better, fresh, transparent.I’m asking for your votes: ‘votes’ because I have no policies. The good people of this constituency create my policies, with AI (artificial intelligence) harnessing your collective wisdom. So far, you’ve voted over 5,000 times to create your policies. I’m running 50 anonymous online conversations in every sizeable village and town. Why? So, that I can understand what you want from me.
“As your MP, you will influence how I represent you in Parliament, every week. Win, and every MP in the land will need to listen to the people. This is what representatives are meant to do, starting here, in Selby and Ainsty.
“If you believe, like I do, that interest rate hikes are madness, empower me. I recommend we restructure the failed Bank of England, should we?
“I’m a dad, first and foremost, with two children in school. Husband, leader, lawyer, entrepreneur and Quaker. I’ve made my mistakes, lots of them. I’ve represented hundreds of people, businesses and trade unions, throughout Yorkshire, and hired dozens of staff.
“Me, or more of the same? You decide. Let’s put Selby and Ainsty on the international map.”
Claire Holmes, Conservative Party
Claire Holmes is a solicitor and barrister based in Hull, and represents South East Holderness on East Riding of Yorkshire Council. She was selected last month following the unexpected resignation of the previous candidate, Michael Naughton.
“I was born and grew up in Castleford and have always lived in Yorkshire. My dad worked down the pit and my mum was a seamstress.
“I have a strong work ethic. I worked full time and studied with Open University to qualify as a barrister and I will use that dedication and those skills to be a strong voice for this community to ensure everyone here has access to good opportunities to achieve their potential.
“I will push for more investment here alongside the Community Diagnostic Centre at New Selby War Memorial Hospital – improving access to healthcare; the 251 extra police officers secured for North Yorkshire – I sat on the Police Crime Commissioner’s Panel and I know these will help to make local people safer; and the £500m of new investment in North Yorkshire to grow our local economy and create good jobs with decent pay.
“It is important Selby and Ainsty’s MP is focused on here and not Westminster.
“Anyone who wants to represent our community must want to protect what’s special about our towns, villages and rural communities – protecting our green spaces, backing our farmers and creating jobs for local people.
“I am a councillor in rural East Riding. I held the portfolio for planning, infrastructure and housing and sat on the Transport for the North board, setting long-term planning for the development of the north’s transport system, so I understand and have already faced many of the challenges here.
“I am asking the people of Selby and Ainsty to put their trust in me as their next MP because I want to use the knowledge, skills and experiences I have accrued in my life for the benefit of Yorkshire, my home which I love and am proud of.
“I have performed many voluntary roles as a scout leader, parish councillor, school governor and a member of my local drainage board to demonstrate my belief in the importance of representation being strongly rooted in community and why I believe I should become the next MP for Selby & Ainsty.“
- Harrogate man to stand as independent in Selby and Ainsty by-election
- Tories select replacement candidate for Selby and Ainsty by-election
- Selby and Ainsty MP resigns with immediate effect