Beware “Independents” with dubious intentions … next time around

We currently have VERY Independent Independents at EDDC.

But, given the “race to the bottom” that is happening in party politics at the moment, we can expect more of this sort of thing:

“Don’t let over 55s decide elections”

Owl says: With SO many over-55s in East Devon influencing voting, we certainly do need younger voices to be heard.

“Labour’s election campaign chief has expressed fears that Jeremy Corbyn’s army of young supporters may not turn out to vote in the local elections, meaning the party might fail to live up to high expectations.

Andrew Gwynne, who is also the shadow communities secretary, said there was a danger that the young voters who backed in Labour at the general election would stay at home.

“That’s why we’ve been trying to make the case that local councils have a big impact on young people’s lives,” he said. “It is so important for young people not to leave local elections just to the over-55s.”

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/apr/19/dont-let-over-55s-settle-local-elections-urges-labour-campaign-chief

“Cambridge Analytica files spell out election tactics” – one of which was “persuade people NOT to vote”

The files were released by the UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

They detail some of the work undertaken by Cambridge Analytica and companies it has been linked with, including SCL Group, Global Science Research and Aggregate IQ.

“In one document, SCL said that encouraging people “not to vote” might be more effective than trying to motivate swing voters.

Describing its work in a Nigerian election, SCL Global said it had advised that “rather than trying to motivate swing voters to vote for our clients, a more effective strategy might be to persuade opposition voters not to vote at all”.

It said this had been achieved by “organising anti-election rallies on the day of polling in opposition strongholds” and using “local religious figures to maximise their appeal especially among the spiritual, rural communities”.

It boasted of devising a political graffiti campaign to create a youth “movement” in Trinidad and Tobago and of disseminating “campaign messages that, whilst ostensibly coming from the youth, were unattributable to any specific party”. It said as a result “a united youth movement was created”.
In Latvia, it said it had recognised that “unspoken ethnic tensions” were “at the heart of the election”.

“The locals secretly blamed the Russians for stealing their jobs… armed with this knowledge, SCL was able to reflect these real issues in its client’s messaging,” the document said.

The files spell out how SCL helped the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office “in strategic planning to counter violent jihadism” in Pakistan.

“I wouldn’t only recommend them, I’d work with them again in an instant,” wrote an official, whose name has been redacted.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-43581892

How can you be trusted with the economy if you can’t get your election expenses right!

“Details of enforcement action relating to political parties

The Conservative Party, Green Party and the Labour Party are under investigation for submitting spending returns that were missing invoices and for submitting potentially inaccurate statements of payments made.

The Conservative Party and Liberal Democrats are under investigation for making multiple payments to suppliers where either the claim for payment was received past the 30 day deadline or it was paid after the 60 day deadline following the election. These deadlines are specified in law.

The Women’s Equality Party is under investigation for submitting a spending return that was inconsistent with its donation reports covering the same period.

Details of enforcement action relating to non-party campaigners:

Best for Britain is under investigation for submitting a spending return that was missing invoices. The campaigner is also under investigation for not returning a £25,000 donation from an impermissible donor within 30 days as required by PPERA.

The National Union for Teachers is under investigation for submitting a spending return that was missing an invoice.”

https://www.markpack.org.uk/154324/2017-general-election-expense-returns/

“The plan to cut MPs looks suspiciously like a power grab”

“Are we witnessing a power grab?

Six months ago, reports suggested that the Prime Minister had dropped plans to force through a cut in MPs, a cut linked with the ongoing review of constituency boundaries.

It turns out there has been a u-turn on the u-turn, with news emerging that the PM is set to reduce the number of MPs.

That’s despite the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee warning that moves to cut numbers to 600 are unlikely to secure the backing of MPs.

But why the fuss?

The issue comes down to a very ill-thought plan for new constituencies – alongside some clear democratic dangers when it comes to reducing voters’ representation.

The cut in MPs actually represents a cut in backbenchers if there are no plans to cap/cut the size of the executive or ‘payroll vote’ correspondingly.

Parliament will gain more powers after Brexit yet will have less capacity to scrutinise legislation. At the same time voters lose their representatives in Europe. That places a greater burden on the Commons and a lack of capacity poses significant risks.

The democratic dangers are clear. ERS research in 2016 showed that in a smaller, 600-seat Commons, nearly one in four (23%) MPs would be on the government payroll if the parties’ proportion of MPs – and the total number of ministers and whips – stayed the same – an all-time high, and up from the 21% at present (figures as of November 2016).

The more you look at it, the more cutting backbenchers at the same as bolstering the executive looks to many like a worrying power-grab.

But there’s another factor – the unelected Lords. It’s just common sense that the cut in democratically elected representatives cannot go ahead while the House of Lords remains the second largest chamber in the world, with around 800 members.

If the government are concerned about reducing the cost of politics, they would do well to deal with the over-sized second chamber.

Voters need real representation in the Commons to provide the essential scrutiny and capacity we need: both for now and when we gain new powers after Brexit.

But there are problems with the boundary changes regardless of the cut in MPs. For a start, the new boundaries will be based on highly incomplete as well as out of date data. For example, people who registered to vote for the EU referendum won’t be counted for the new boundaries – skewing representation.

At the same time, the government has set an arbitrary 5% maximum difference in the size of the new constituencies. That risks awkwardly splitting up communities or grafting very different towns/counties onto each other – just look at the controversial Devonwall proposals.

Finally, unregistered but eligible voters are not being considered when drawing up these constituency boundaries – even though they will still need support and representation from their MP. This disadvantages poorer constituencies – they end up with lower representation, often despite greater need.

Far from reducing political representation and weakening voters’ voices, the Prime Minister should cancel the proposed cut in MPs – and move forward with fair boundaries based on a properly resourced Commons.

Read the ERS’ full views on the boundary changes here:

https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/campaigns/upgrading-our-democracy/fair-boundaries/ and here https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/cutting-the-number-of-mps-will-have-consequences-lets-get-this-right/

“Male MPs ‘seat-blocking’ safe constituencies in the Commons, says new report”

East Devon has two safe(ish) seats (though getting less safe by the day)!
Hugo Swire and Neil Parish are male.
Claire Wright is Independent and female.
Just saying …

“Male MPs are effectively “seat-blocking” safe seats in the Commons and holding back gender progress, according to new research that calls for an overhaul in the way politicians are elected to Parliament.

The new study from the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) claims that hundreds of seats have effectively been “reserved” by male politicians – forcing women to contest in marginal constituencies in order to enter public life.

The research, published on Tuesday, shows that of the 212 currently-serving MPs first elected in 2005 or before, just 42 are women. …

Jess Garland, the director of policy and research at the ERS, added that while Britain has experienced progress in gender equality at recent elections, it is being “held back by Westminster’s broken voting system, which effectively ‘reserves’ seats for men”.

She continued: “Over 80 per cent of MPs first elected in 1997 or earlier are men, with the one-MP per seat one-person-takes-all nature of First Past the Post leaving few opportunities for women’s representation once a man has secured selection. Sitting MPs have a huge incumbency advantage, and since open selections are relatively rare, we face a real stumbling block in the path to fair representation. …