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

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.”