A Seaton Correspondent write:
Is it possible that Marcus Hartnell, the Conservative who took the Seaton county seat from Martin Shaw, had a secret ally? The day after the election, a Twitter account calling itself the ‘Seaton Information Centre’ tweeted ‘We now have a new County Councillor in #seaton #Devon Let us hope he is better than the last one’. The handle for this account is @SeatonTIC, where TIC means Tourist Information Centre. This unofficial account was set up by former Seaton mayor Peter Burrows. He notoriously used it to libel the innocent owner of a Seaton micro pub two years ago, after which he had to resign and the Town Council asked him to stop using the account.
Now the account is being used to express its owner’s pleasure at Shaw’s defeat. Burrows, who had come a weak third in the 2013 County election [as Lib Dem candidate], was very displeased when Shaw came from nowhere to win in 2017, pushing his own vote lower still. He might be expected to take satisfaction in Shaw’s failure.
A complaint has been made to Seaton Town Council about the new use of this account to attack Shaw. The more interesting question, however, is the light it throws on the Tiverton and Honiton Lib Dems’ unexplained dropping of their offer to withdraw their candidate in Shaw’s favour, which he revealed this weekend (the Lib Dems haven’t commented). Was this because Burrows, or someone close to him, objected to this move?
While the tweet is cautiously worded, it suggests that the owner thinks Hartnell could hardly be worse than the man he replaced. Until now, it seemed that the shrinking of the Lib Dem vote had benefited Shaw, even if the votes for their candidate were greater than Hartnell’s majority. Now the question being asked is: Did Peter Burrows and some of his supporters actually vote for Hartnell, rather than the official Lib Dem candidate Martyn Wilson? Even Tiverton & Honiton Lib Dems might feel that was a step too far.