Owl’s concern is that the Conservatives hope to gain seats by default.
By introducing the requirement for photo ID, they have smuggled dishonourable intent in a measure purporting to strengthen the rules.
They have skewed the election by making it harder for young voters to meet the ID requirements. Older voters are more likely to vote Conservative.
They may also be relying on general apathy. It seems to Owl that there are far fewer “Blue Posters” in evidence than usual. This could indicate a general loss in Tory morale, nearly half of existing Tory councillors are not standing, but thinks it more likely to be a deliberate policy designed to create a “low key” setting and low turn out.
Instead, the Tories seem to have used their ample party coffers to bombard electors with leaflets, including using mailshots.
Under our “first past the post” electoral system it is quite common to find a dominant party, such as the Conservatives, gaining power with only a minority of the vote. The outgoing EDDC coalition of LibDems, Independents and Greens (with tacit support from Labour) is a fragile exception.
To maintain this in East Devon, as Owl hopes it will be, requires careful consideration of how to vote.
The danger is that the “anything but conservative” vote can become split amongst a wide choice of alternatives.
Martin Shaw, Chair of the East Devon Alliance, who played a significant part in helping Independent Councillors become the pivot in the formation of the coalition, gives an insight in the sort of reasoning one might apply to the candidates in the wards in his neighbourhood: Seaton and Colyton; and Beer and Branscombe.
Otherwise here is a common sense “pecking order” of preferences:
Where they are standing, Owl suggests giving first preference to existing members of the coalition cabinet, portfolio and assistant portfolio holders. Then to those who are members of the coalition or who have supported them.
As mentioned previously, a vote for leaving the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan is a good test of who to vote for. Voting to stay is definitely a “Red Flag”.
Then it may be down to personal preference or, for some, a matter of voting tactically, for which candidate/s is/are perceived most likely to win. Where you have a number of votes you do not have to use them all. Tories will invariably block vote for their party.
The EDDC Humphreys investigation has not featured as an election issue because it has been withdrawn, pending evaluation of “new information”. If accurate, this information has the potential to materially affect some elements of the Verita Report.
The Commissioning Group for this report is led by Simon Davey, Chief Finance Officer, and, in the outgoing council, three councillors: Cllr Ian Thomas (Council Chair), Cllr Sarah Jackson (portfolio holder for transparency and democracy) and Cllr Jess Bailey.
Ian Thomas is standing down. If Sarah Jackson and Jess Bailey fail to be re-elected then all councillor collective knowledge of this investigation will be lost.
Jess Bailey has been the instigator and driving force behind the investigation. In answer to a question from her in a Devon County Council Cllr Leadbetter (Conservative member for Wearside & Topsham) said: “I think you should leave this subject alone. You keep asking questions.”.
Worse, if the new Chair is a Tory, Owl thinks the Verita report will never see the light of day.
Finally, the 2019 election returned a number of younger councillors and it would be healthy for democracy to see that trend continue.
I have heard that some tories have been weaponising the verita investigation claiming it is a waste of money and politically motivated. Yet it is they and their lord protector who have caused this obligation to fall on the district council. If they had joined with the other parties in urging the police to come clean about multiple failures over the years and clear misconduct in 2014 there would be no division on this and pressure on the failing force. Why would they choose to protect a force and officers who had failed, either by incompetence or worse, to protect the public?