Election hot topics on IEDA blogs.. and on the video intros

Confused about who to vote for, how many votes you have, or why all the talk about neighbourhood plans? This blog has brief, clear summaries: http://www.eastdevonalliance.org.uk/candidates/sidmouth/cathy-gardner/

EDW also recommends Cathy’s video intro; and the one by the iEDA candidate standing against Paul Diviani (in Yarty), Steve Horner.
Many of you will already have watched this straight-talking one, which we highlighted yesterday : http://www.eastdevonalliance.org.uk/candidates/coly-valley/paul-arnott/

Then there’s one by Megan Armstrong (Exmouth); and by Martin Shaw (Seaton)…… the list goes on, and is steadily increasing.

Election only one week away!

Former Exeter council officer talks of difficulty of supporting project you din’t believe in

For those who have worked with me they will know that I am not quiet when something is not right for our city.

Pete [Council Leader] and his colleagues will recall how vocal I was about my serious misgivings for the swimming pool proposal behind closed doors. I made my grave concerns over the pool’s price tag and resulting risk to the council’s finances very clear and repeatedly articulated serious doubts over the claimed wider benefits to city centre.

That was the right and proper way to conduct myself as a local authority officer.


Wonder what some of EDDC’s officers would say if they could? Unfortunately, some of those who could have spoken have accepted gagging clauses in their pay-offs.

Smaller parties and independents could hold the balance of power in Parliament

Nate Silver, the number-cruncher who had a 100% success rate in predicting the outcome of the last US presedential election in all 50 states, was brought to the UK by the BBC Panorama programme to see the situation here.

His prediction is that no two large parties together (Conservative/Lib Dem or Labour/SNP) will get an overall majority and both major parties will need the extra support of smaller parties and independents to form a majority coalition.

What a great time to be an Independent MP – they talk about Nicola Sturgeon being powerful in a hung Parliament and wresting major deals for Scotland – imagine if the king-maker was Claire Wright wresting major deals for East Devon!

Meet the candidates on video!

Here’s a taster, from iEDA Chair Paul Arnott, on the theme of ‘EDDC and Tower Hamlets compared’: see Paul’s ‘video intro’ at http://www.eastdevonalliance.org.uk/candidates/coly-valley/paul-arnott/

P.S. Lots more video introductions now available for other candidates, on the same website. And more in the pipeline…

Another hustings packed to overflowing last night, this time in Sidmouth

The third in the series of hustings organised in Sidmouth (for District,Town and Parliamentary elections, respectively), admirably had all five of the Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) there to meet the public face to face.

Andrew Chapman (UKIP), Hugo Swire (Cons) , Stuart Mole Lib Dem), Claire Wright (Ind) and Steve Race (Labour) gave their views clearly and characteristically, from their various standpoints, showing that politicians are NOT all the same!

The evening began with an element of almost high comedy, as a phalanx of Tory supporters arrived half an hour early, having been informed in an e-mail from the party office of the wrong start time…rather conveniently enabling them to claim the front row seats.

There was not enough time to cover all the questions submitted, but topics were wide-ranging. They included Trident,and defence spending; decarbonising the energy sector; provision of mental health services; and housing figures in East Devon’s latest draft Local Plan.
The audience was clearly strongly divided, but for the most part listened attentively to the speakers.,although there were outbreaks of heckling when the Party lines were rolled out,  as when Hugo Swire (Con) said repeatedly that Labour + the SNP would make a chaotic combination in government; and UKIP’s Andrew Chapman insisted our housing shortage was caused by EU immigrants. There was also applause, as when Claire Wright declared, in her closing speech, that as an MP she would never belittle people who were poorer than herself.

At the end of the meeting, VgS Chair, Dave Bramley, praised the courage of the five PPCs, for being prepared to stand on their platform in front of the large audience (about 200 people), and answer questions in person. Regrettably, the bulk of the District Councillors representing Sidmouth, sitting in those front row seats last night, had not been so keen to do so themselves, having boycotted the previous two Sidmouth hustings as “too political”, we hear. Last night all that was required of them was to clap in unison, on cue.

EDW note: If the hustings in progress right now, at St Martins School, Cranbrook, is equally well-attended….is it a sign of the times?

1993 – the last time the old guard was trounced!

In 1993, the electorate were fed up of “same old” and all over the area the old guard of dinosaurs were trounced:

In Cornwall the Liberal Democrats won 13 extra seats to take control by three seats. Independents, who traditionally dominated the council, lost four seats, leaving them with 21.

In the early hours of Friday the Liberal Democrats also looked as if they would take control of Devon but finished two seats short of an overall majority. The number of Conservative held seats slumped from 55 to 18, making it the third party behind Labour.

Liberal Democrats gained 29 seats and Labour did well in both Plymouth and Exeter.

The biggest surprise in Cornwall was in Liskeard, where the Honourable Robert Eliot, the county’s Masonic leader, lost his seat after representing the town for 16 years. The county’s Conservatives will now have to find a new deputy leader.


Many will remember Ted Pinney, who ran East Devon District Council Council and Chairman of Devon County Council with an iron hand whilst simultaneously running his Sidmouth construction company ……

And note Stuart Hughes was an Independent then, though originally a Monster Raving Loony and most recently a Conservative and now:


now it’s anyone’s guess – a real chameleon!

It’t time – again – for change. Vote for REAL Independents


Swire should concentrate on issues

“MIGHT any of your readers enlighten me as to any valid reason why Hugo Swire should bother complaining about whether or not the East Devon constituency should be regarded as a safe, not marginal, seat? (Letters 23 April).

Putting aside the fact that this election is, for a variety of reasons, unlike any other ( thus raising doubts as to the value of using previous election data) why should it be a priority for him when he could be addressing us on real local issues?

I can only assume that Mr Swire thinks that by claiming the seat is a safe Tory seat, and thus his for the taking and regardless of any earned entitlement, he hopes to discourage any non-Tory voters from voting.

Is this not an example of the arrogance so many accuse him of? Does he take us for fools perhaps?

To make matters worse, in another newspaper, I notice that when telling us why we should vote for him he singularly fails to mention East Devon in his statement.

It is such arrogance, compounded by a very low record of interest in East Devon outside of the election period, a record of unwise expense claims and a demonstrable lack of understanding of those who, unlike himself, ‘are in it together’ in the austerity measures generated by his party, that now makes East Devon very much less of a safe seat.

Indeed there are many signs that Mr Swire may have a Portillo moment at the count.

Thankfully there are now, more than ever, independently minded people who can see why the Electoral Reform Society call safe seats ‘the 21st Century’s rotten boroughs’ and are prepared to do the right thing to change the outcome.

It is time for change.

T Todd


Visits by Hugo Swire in the East Devon constituency MP 2010-2015

Hugo Swire has apparently been suggesting that he has made many visits in his constituency during the life of this parliament, particularly to schools. A number of people have then said they have never seen him at their schools.

East Devon Watch looks forward to receiving details of places he has visited in East Devon during his time in Parliament, though with the following exclusions:

1. Not in the last six months, for obvious reasons
2. Not those premises belonging to local party stalwarts being rewarded by a visit
3. Not party donors
4. Not those which were just arrive-and-run photo-opportunities and
5. Not businesses belonging to former members of the East Devon Business Forum

We suspect it will not be a long list, particularly as his Foreign travels, buddying arrangements with global businesses and Tory fundraising auctioneering in London have kept him pretty busy.

“Straw sucking yokels and whingeing farmers”

A Conservative candidate in one of the South West’s most rural constituencies once derided the countryside as populated by “chinless foxhunters, straw-sucking yokels and whingeing farmers”.

In a newspaper column, Peter Heaton-Jones, a would-be MP in North Devon and former BBC DJ, launched an attack on the huge countryside march through central London in 2002, arguing if rural life is “so bad” they should “move to the town”.

Mr Heaton-Jones today said the series of articles he wrote for the Evening Advertiser newspaper in Swindon were designed to provoke a response as a “shock jock” on BBC Wiltshire Sound’s breakfast show, and were “not my views”.

North Devon, which is dominated by dairy and beef farming, is one of 14 Liberal Democrat-held seats in the South West that the Tories are targeting.”


What Hugo Swire thinks of people who use food banks

Hugo Swire said it was important to avoid users becoming dependent on the food bank and they should be encouraged to learn to cook for themselves.

Translation: poor people are going to food banks because they don’t know how to cook.
NO: they go to food banks because they can’t afford to BUY food to cook.

“We have to be careful to instil the idea of responsibility,” said Mr Swire. “There will always be people who can’t manage their own affairs.”

Translation: people who go to food banks are just irresponsible people who can’t manage their perfectly adequate money.
NO: many people who go to food banks are working people with families and on low pay and/or zero hours contracts who just don’t have enough money to survive.

I think it’s a very useful role for the churches and the community to play and one that’s always gone on in one way or another. It’s what the Big Society is about.

Translation: it’s not our job to feed poor people.
NO: we all share the responsibility of taking care of the poorest in our society – but particular responsibility for this should be placed on the rich.

“The key is to encourage people who come to understand why they are coming.”

Translation: Poor people are lazy scroungers who have no idea how to manage their money and should get off their backsides.
NO, they are just much unluckier than you – they didn’t have inherited wealth or an Eton education to give them a good start in life.

Mr Swire added: “No one should have to be dependent on a food bank. What concerns me is the elderly people who are perhaps not getting enough to eat, but are embarrassed and feel it’s beneath them.”

Translation: Most of my core voters are old and I must suck up to them because every vote for me counts in this safe seat.
YES: he finally got something right!


That letter from “5,000 small businesses” in Daily Telegraph not what it seemed

“A letter of support for the Conservatives from 5,000 small business owners has begun to unravel after it emerged it was orchestrated by the party’s central office, contained dozens of duplicate names and one person who said they had never signed it.

The letter, which was promoted by Tory small business ambassador Karren Brady, has been criticised after it emerged the document originated from Conservative party headquarters. This was discovered because the author of the document is listed in the metadata as “CCHQ-Admin”.

The Guardian has also established that at least 45 of the small business owners who signed the letter are in fact duplicate names – including one man who signed it four times and several who signed it three times.

For example, a Michael Withers is listed at number 2944 for Microse, 3925 for Sefton Meadows, 4611 for Tradewinds Europe and 4618 for Trans‐Continental Group. Company checks show this is one man with four small businesses.

Another person, Arun Ahluwalia, even appears to have signed it twice for the same company, Opera Opticians, at 3240 and 3241.

Another of those who signed twice is a Conservative councillor, Mark Hook, who listed himself under both ELJ Furnishings and Gosport Borough Football Club. ….”

When asked about the duplicates, the Conservatives claimed they had only ever billed it as “representatives of over 5,000 businesses”, although the Telegraph list suggests they are all separate owners of small businesses.

Meanwhile, one company executive has had to be taken off the letter, after Aurum Solutions, a technology company, tweeted on Monday morning that its sales director did not sign it and wanted to be removed.

One of the small business signatories was also found to have been Stanley Ward Conservative Club, a member of the Association of Conservative Clubs.

Later, Diverse Cymru, a registered charity, issued a statement saying that it “categorically” is not affiliated to the Conservative party, after its chairman, Keith Dewhurst, signed the letter in its name.

The statement said: “Diverse Cymru’s name should not and should never appear on any list of political endorsements such as the one published today in the Telegraph of entrepreneurs of small businesses, neither of which terms apply to Diverse Cymru. We believe we were included in error and have contacted the Conservative party to remove our name from this list immediately, and are also working to ensure that Diverse Cymru is not similarly cited in future.”

The signatories included 32 business leaders who have donated more than £9m to the Conservatives ……


Tonight’s Vision Group for Sidmouth hustings

Please note that this hustings has been 100% organised by the Vision Group for Sidmouth and NOT by any individual candidate….

Hugo Swire has sent this email to his supporters:

Hugo Swire will be holding a hustings meeting tonight at the above address. Also attending, I believe, will be Claire Wright, Independent and Andrew Chapman, UKIP.

Please come along and show your support to Hugo, who, I am sure, will look forward to seeing as many of you there as possible.”

It’s rather like when he describes himself as having “attended” St Andrews University (i.e. he did not graduate from the University) – he is not “holding” the hustings, he is “attending”.

TONIGHT: Hustings in Sidmouth: General Election

Organised by Vision Group for Sidmouth. Reminder of details, from the VgS website:

When: 7:30 PM 28th April

Where: St Francis Church Hall, Woolbrook, Sidmouth, EX10 9XH

Who: Andrew Chapman, Stuart Mole, Steve Race, Rt Hon Hugo Swire MP, Claire Wright

A copy of the letter sent out to declared candidates:

Dear Candidate

Many thanks for accepting the invitation (subject to any other emergent diary demands) to the Vision Group for Sidmouth (VGS) 2015 Hustings. So far the panel will be made up of the following Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPCs)s :-

Conservative Hugo Swire
Independent Claire Wright
Labour Steve Race
Liberal Democrat Stuart Mole
UKIP Andrew Chapman

The Hustings for the General Election will be on Apr 28th at St Francis Hall

The event will be styled on the BBC Radio 4 programme “Any Questions”.

The PPCs will make up the panel to take questions from representative groups and members of the public.

The evening will commence at 7.30pm with refreshments.
The panel will gather at 7.50pm; the session will consist of pre-prepared questions being fielded through the chair to the PPCs from the audience – namely from those organisations and individuals who have sent in questions.
The panellists will not be aware of the exact wording of the questions beforehand; they will not be subject to follow-up questions from the audience, although the chair might chose to ask for clarification.
The question-and-answer session will end at 8.50pm with further refreshments.
The evening should finish at about 9.15pm.

The event will be moderated by the Chair. Microphones will be available for both panellists and members of the audience fielding questions. Refreshments will be provided by the VGS.

I will provide a further update nearer the time.

Best regards,

Dave Bramley
Vision Group for Sidmouth