Will he – won’t he?
How many times has old “Tractor Porn” Parish floated the idea of standing as an “independent”!
Not that he was obviously independent minded when he was an MP.
Neil, Owl’s advice is put your money where your mouth is and stand – split the Tory vote! It will be fun to watch.
Philip Churm www.devonlive.com
The former Devon Tory MP who quit after admitting watching pornography in the House of Commons has said he may stand as an independent in the next general election. Neil Parish, who served Tiverton and Honiton for 12 years, and before that was a member of the European Parliament, resigned after he was spotted viewing sexually explicit material on a mobile device while waiting to vote.
Because of forthcoming boundary changes, the Tiverton and Honiton constituency will cease to exist. Simon Jupp, the current Conservative MP for East Devon, has said he will stand in the newly created Honiton and Sidmouth seat.
Ian Liddell-Grainger, the current Conservative MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, has been named as their candidate in the newly-created Tiverton and Minehead seat. And Mr Parish says that if he decides to run again, it is this seat he would stand in.
But in an interview for Devoncast, a podcast hosted by the Local Democracy Reporting Service in Devon, Mr Parish said politics is in his blood and he wants voters to decide whether he should return as an MP.
In a frank interview, the former MP, who had a majority of more than 24,000 at the last general election, said the circumstances surrounding his resignation last year had met with mixed reactions.
“It was a terrible year for me,” he explained. “And it’s interesting now to see where I take myself going forward, because I still have very much a public interest in mind with politics in the blood, food, farming environment. I just want to try and keep those things running, if I can, and hopefully do some good.”
However, the 66 year-old, who opposed Brexit and previously served as an MEP, said he was no longer a member of the Conservative Party and had no plans to rejoin.
“I don’t particularly like the direction of some of the policies. So, I am just making up my mind now whether to stand for parliament as an independent,” he said.
Asked which policies he will prioritise if he is re-elected he said: “It would be the cottage hospitals, the health side of it. It would be the food and farming side of it.
“Naturally, the big issue for Tiverton itself is the new school for Tiverton High School. That’s making progress now, but that needs to be delivered.”
He will also focus on rural issues. Mr Parish admits he will face challenges without the backing of a major party but suggests his prior knowledge will stand him in good stead.
“As an independent, it’s difficult to deliver in parliament, but I have had a lot of experience in parliament,” he added. “But what it does enable you to do is look at policies across the [board] because I wouldn’t stand to be anti-Tory, anti-Labour, anti-Liberal, anti-Green.
“I would like to try to put forward a positive message and to see whether people actually wanted that.”
Mr Parish said the next general election may prove interesting as he feels many people are “looking for something different.”
Responding to critics who have said he should not see re-election after last year’s revelations, he believes the decision should be in the hands of the electorate.
“By resigning and then if you stand again, then people can make up their own mind, can’t they? And that’s what democracy’s about,” he said.
Neil Parish’s resignation triggered a by-election in June last year which was won by Liberal Democrat, Richard Foord with a 6,000 majority.