Lib Dems stand down in Exeter to help Remain vote, but will not stand down for strongest candidate in East Devon

The decision whether to stand is apparently taken at local level. Exeter Lib Dems have agreedtheu will stand down in favour of the Green candidate.

East Devon Lib Dem candidate Eleanor Rylance has presumably refused to stand down for the strongest candidate in East Devon – Claire Wright. Far, far more likely to win than the Green in Exeter – she gained 35% of the vote in 2017.

If splitting the Remain vote leads to a Tory victory – your local Lib Dem group will be to blame.

In East Devon, if you vote Lib Dem you stand a good chance of getting a Tory.

Exeter story here:

5 thoughts on “Lib Dems stand down in Exeter to help Remain vote, but will not stand down for strongest candidate in East Devon

  1. Here’s a letter I’ve just sent to local papers: Tactical Voting or

    I note that the Brexit Party is not fielding a candidate in the Devon East constituency. Is this by arrangement with Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party? Didn’t Boris tell us he wouldn’t enter into any such pact?

    At the same time both the LibDems and Labour are standing, thus making a Conservative victory likely, as a look at the 2017 results indicates:

    Hugo Swire (Con) – 29,306 (majority of 8,036) Claire Wright (Independent) – 21,270; Jan Ross (Labour) – 6,857; Alison Eden (LibDem) – 1,468; 2 other Independents – 278.

    As you can see, if the Labour and LibDem votes had gone to Claire Wright she would have won.

    The LibDems are now happy to make a pact with Plaid Cymru and the Greens in order not to split the anti-Tory vote. Why then does the LibDem candidate not see that she cannot win from such a low base and why doesn’t the Labour candidate understand that he, too, is merely serving the Conservative’s ends?

    So it’s a case of Vote LibDem or Labour and you get a Conservative.


  2. Yes, those thinking of voting Libdem, or Labour for that matter, should ask themselves if they really want a right-wing Conservative.


  3. Well, there are mixed messages: it’s not just a matter of local deals being struck.
    The LibDem-Plaid-Green pact was largely determined by party HQs – and some of the local branches have not been happy. See:
    The LibDem HQ in London needs to fully realise how high the stakes are here in East Devon.
    The Tory HQ certainly seems to understand.


  4. In 2017 I asked both the Labour candidate (Jan Ross) and the Lib Dem candidate (Alison Eden) if she recognised that Claire had the strongest chance of beating Hugo Swine and if they would therefore stand down in her favour. The Labour candidate never answered my question, but here is the response from Alison Eden:

    Qs: Which is more important to you? Fighting for your own seat regardless of whether it increases the chance of the Conservative candidate being re-elected, or doing what is best to ensure that the Conservatives don’t win this seat again and end up back in government?

    As: The Liberal Democrats are a national party, with supporters and voters, as well as members across every constituency across the UK. We have a responsibility to them and voters in general to provide a genuine choice for the electorate, especially considering our fully costed, progressive and workable manifesto (see IFS report). It is also worth considering a number of other elements around specifically the East Devon constituency. The East Devon constituency has seen a series of results up to 2015 where the Liberal Democrats came second. In 2015 an outlier occurred on the back of a protest which reduced our vote, but also increased Hugo’s margin of victory by 30% to over 12000 – nearly the same again as the second place candidate could muster. The sums indicate it is unlikely that the candidate who came second last time can win next week even assuming all of Labour, UKIP and LD’s voters vote tactically. In light of that, I repeat it is our duty to our members, voters and supporters to provide a proper effective choice at the ballot box. Failing to do so cheapens the democratic process.

    As it happens, it turns out that Claire came second to Hugo Swire again in the last election, the results being:

    Hugo Swire 29,306
    Claire Wright 21,270
    Jan Ross 6,857
    Alison Eden 1,468

    As you can see Claire gained nearly 3x as many votes as Labour and LibDems combined, and she was 8,036 votes behind Hugo with 8,325 votes wasted on the Lab/LibDem pair (as well as another 278 on two other Independents who split the vote further). So , contrary to what Alison said, this was not an outlier, and had the Labour and Lib Dem candidates stepped down in favour of Claire in order to prevent Hugo being re-elected, Claire might well have won.

    Once again, and despite the above results from 2017 which show they really haven;t got a chance in East Devon, it seems the Lib Dems are too stupid to see that it is more important to keep the Tories from forming a government than to put forward a candidate who is almost certainly likely to lose.

    I should add that I believe that people vote for a person they know and trust – with the possible exception of the Tories whose supporters seem willing to elect anyone however unsuitable. Alison Eden was almost unknown in East Devon whilst Claire Wright had and still has a high profile – and that is why she got very few votes by comparison to Claire. As far as I am aware, across East Devon Eleanor Rylance is also relatively unknown – does she really think she has a chance of winning a seat or is she simply standing so that Jo Swinson can boast about how many seats they had candidates in. Ironically, if Eleanor Rylance stood down in favour of Claire and Claire won against whoever the new Conservative candidate is (another unknown), then it might actually help Jeremy Corbyn and Jo Swinson form a coalition when otherwise Boris Johnson might have enough MPs – so if Jo Swinson was being brutally honest, it is probably NOT in her interests for Eleanor to stand rather than step down.

    So, my advice to any of Owl’s readers who thinking about voting Lib Dems is to decide whether your wish to keep out a Tory candidate is stronger than a wish to vote for Lib Dems – and then vote accordingly. And of course, if you want to, you can swap votes with a constituent of a safe Lib Dem seat who really wants to vote for an Independent but doesn’t want to let in a Tory either.


    • I contacted Alison Eden and the labour candidate also, and they gave me the same spiel, they just don’t get it do they, perfectly happy to condemn us to another 5 years of Swire’s lack of enthusiasm for the East Devon constituents.
      This coming election will show us how tactical voting influences the result ( or not!)
      In the past I’ve argued with the local labour agent, Ray Davison that proportional representation is the fairest voting system to adopt .. his answer was No! We’ll never get a labour government again . PR works perfectly well in a number of Northern European countries and they manage to run their countries with coalition governments.
      Hopefully we’re on the way to that soon.


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