Guildford is often referred to as a city as traditionally the establishment of a diocesan cathedral in a town conferred city status. However, it is simply a town and has applied for city status several times, with Guildford’s last application to be granted the status of a city in 2002 proving unsuccessful again, losing out to Preston, the only English town that was formally recognised as a city as part of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.
Guildford is the county town for Surrey, a county with no city in it whatsoever. The administrative base of the council is peculiarly in Kingston Upon Thames which, although formerly in Surrey, is now in Greater London. But there are many large public sector organisations that have headquarters in Guildford such as the Surrey Police, the South East England Development Agency and the Government Office for the South East.
The constituency of Guildford is thought of as a Conservative stronghold with them traditionally winning the seat. However in 2001, the general election returned a Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament, (Sue Doughty) for the first time in over ninety years. The 2003 Borough Elections returned a majority council for the Conservative party, replacing the Liberal Democrat controlled council. And then in the 2005 general election Guildford returned a Conservative Party MP, Anne Milton by a narrow margin (0.7% of the voting electorate, or 347 votes). The Conservatives also held the council majority in the local elections of 2007.