Report on Sidmouth hustings

[Mr Venner – Conservative candidate – appears to say in a comment on a previous post that he was not invited. He might want to take this up with his agent or constituency office as there may be some crossed wires there somewhere]

“The hustings in Sidmouth went well last night:
Futures Forum: Sidmouth Town and District council elections > HUSTINGS event > political speed dating

To quote a commentator:

“I thought it was a good convivial event which achieved its purpose for voters who attended. It was good to see the candidates being engaged and convivial with each other, and all in all I think the event was worthwhile, contributing to an awareness of the upcoming elections and the importance of voting.”

There is further lively comment happening on the East Devon Watch blog:
Tories no-show at Sidmouth hustings last night | East Devon Watch

The organisers of the event were at pains to contact all the candidates.

  • All current Councillors who are standing in contested wards were contacted.
  • However some of the other candidates did not have email addresses readily available.
  • The following agents, political parties and representative groups were contacted with the request that the invitation to the hustings be passed on:
    • Devon UKIP: local agent
    • East Devon Conservative Party:
    • East Devon Labour Party: local agent
    • East Devon Liberal Democrats:
    • Independent East Devon Alliance:
    • Sid Valley Democracy:
  • Otherwise, letters of invitation were sent to those with no such contact address or party/group affiliation.
  • The following candidates sent in their apologies:
    • Stuart Hughes (District Conservative; Town Independent)
    • Ian McKenzie Edwards (Town)
    • Louise Thompson (Town Independent)
    • Jenny Ware (District Conservative; Town Independent)
  • Otherwise, several candidates did not attend or send in apologies, despite their agents, political parties and representative groups being contacted.

Here is more information about the candidates:
Futures Forum: Sidmouth Town and District council elections > HUSTINGS event > Tuesday 30th April > candidates’ manifestos

Finally, it was noted that several members of the public popped into the Hall to ‘have a look’ but did not want to venture in – feeling either that ‘there was no point in voting’ or that ‘all politicians are corrupt/useless/a waste of time’…

Let’s hope that voters do nevertheless turn up tomorrow on voting day.”

Referendum: voting problems won’t go away for Ukip and social media use

“Ukip is to face a tribunal over its use of analytics during the EU referendum after refusing to cooperate with an investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

The ICO announced a formal investigation into how political parties use data analytics to target voters in response to concern about how social media was used during the referendum.

“We are concerned about invisible processing – the ‘behind the scenes’ algorithms, analysis, data matching, profiling that involves people’s personal information. When the purpose for using these techniques is related to the democratic process, the case for a high standard of transparency is very strong,” said Elizabeth Denham, the information commissioner, in an update on the ICO’s website.

Denham said more than 30 organisations, including AggregateIQ, a little-known Canadian firm that received millions of pounds from the leave campaign, were under scrutiny. While some were co-operating, she said, “others are making it difficult”.

She said that the ICO had issued four information notices, formally ordering organisations to disclose information, “including one to Ukip, who have now appealed our notice to the information rights tribunal”.

Separately the Electoral commission is investigating whether Vote Leave, the lead campaign for the leave vote in the referendum, broke spending laws by coordinating spending with other campaign groups.

A Ukip spokesman said the party was prepared to cooperate with the ICO, and was only appealing against a threat of criminal sanctions. “We’re perfectly happy to deal with them, but not under the threat,” he said.”

“Dark money” in British “democracy” – a disturbing development

“… Whatever the grim necessity of these [sexual harrassment] revelations, they contribute to a sense of decline and institutional failure, and thus to an increasingly dangerous lack of trust.

But the rot in Westminster goes beyond alleged sexual harassment, to other forms of subversion that have yet to be exposed. As May prepared to go to the House of Commons for the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions, there was a very significant development in the continuing but almost unnoticed investigations by a handful of journalists—most operating outside the mainstream media—into the financing of the Vote Leave campaign in 2016.

After inquiries led by the independent media outlet OpenDemocracy, Britain’s Electoral Commission announced an investigation to see whether an insurance entrepreneur named Arron Banks broke the law by allegedly channeling $11 million in loans and gifts to a campaign for the U.K. to leave the E.U. (Banks, in response, tweeted, “Gosh I’m terrified.”)

The source of the money is somewhat of a mystery. OpenDemocracy, led by editor Mary Fitzgerald, carried out an analysis by Iain Campbell and Alistair Sloan of Banks’s financial affairs that allegedly showed he was not nearly as rich as he claimed, and suggested the $11 million came from elsewhere.

Some suspect the source is Russia, whose dark money has allegedly been used to fund operations of destabilization across Western democracies.

While Labour MPs Chris Bryant and Ben Bradshaw have consistently promoted the need for scrutiny on this and other possible Russian influence, Banks mocked the idea. “Allegations of Brexit being funded by the Russians . . . are complete bollocks from beginning to end,” he said. Meanwhile, his representatives tried to menace OpenDemocracy. “Make sure you get it right—it’s clearly a political hatchet job and our lawyers will take action if you get one bit wrong,” read a recent e-mail to Fitzgerald.

The Russian ambassador to Britain, Alexander Yakovenko, was quoted on the Russia Today site as saying the story was “outright insulting for the British government and the British people,” which is not, if you read it carefully, a categorical denial.

There are two other big concerns about the influences on the Brexit vote, which are equally important yet still ignored by the largely Brexit-supporting press and—more shockingly—by the BBC.

In this respect, Britain differs radically from the United States, where media and institutions have taken seriously their duty to hold the Trump administration to account on possible Russian involvement in the presidential election a year ago. In the U.K., there is a kind of chill that surrounds the subject of the E.U. referendum—anyone who dares to doubt that the result was purely the “people’s will” is ignored.

The first area of doubt concerns a donation of $574,000 to the leave campaign from the right-wing Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland, which now props up the May government in Parliament.

As OpenDemocracy has revealed, the money was channeled through a secretive group called the Constitutional Research Council (C.R.C.). Because Northern Ireland has special rules to allow donations to be made anonymously, it is impossible to discover whether the money comes from a legitimate source, as defined by British electoral law. But a hint of something unorthodox came when the Electoral Commission levied a fine of $8,000 in connection with C.R.C.’s activities.

The more worrying development, which Britain shares with the United States, is the use of big data and voter targeting on social media by the far right, which is now believed to have been very influential in the Brexit referendum.

Where to draw the line between the activities of the Russians and the far right is difficult because their interests and methods overlap. However, a recent academic study has shown that a network of Twitter bots comprising 13,493 accounts tweeted on the E.U. referendum, only to vanish the day after the vote.

It is hard to know whether these were controlled by Russia or the far right. “Putin’s agents tried to influence the U.S. election,” E.U. chief negotiator Guy Verhofstadt tweeted this week. “We need to know if they interfered in the #Brexit vote too.” (If you want a very full explanation of this new peril, it is worth reading the research in full.)



Did you vote for Farage to get a knighthood – quite possibly if you voted Tory!

1208 people in East Devon voted for UKIP – 2 in every 100 voters in the constituency. Now it appears that they will get a better deal than any other individual or party as rumour is that the DUP is demanding that Nigel Farage gets a Brexit role AND a knighthood as part of the price the Tories must pay for their co-operation:–reports.html

And Theresa has form when it comes to letting croney knighthoods through (such as that awarded to Hugo Swire by David Cameron):

PLEASE let it be fake news! Alas, it appears not:

First UKIP MP charged with election fraud

“Former Conservative MP Bob Spink, who defected to Ukip and became its first MP, has been charged with electoral fraud.

The 68-year-old has been charged alongside a second man, 38-year-old James Parkin, over allegations that they submitted false signatures on Ukip nomination papers.

The accusations relate to the local election for Castle Point Borough Council in south Essex, England in 2016. [Irish Times]”

Nominative determinism and 22 MEPs who need to resign

How ironic (as Owl is sure many people will point out) that
the UKIP MEP who allegedly got into an altercation with another UKIP MEP (Stephen Woolfe tipped as yet another potential leader) is called Mike Hookem!

But also how shocking that these people – who have got what they want and despise the EU – should still be around the European Parliament, sponging off it.

On his website, Hookem says that he joined the party because he was committed to showing his constituents “what a corrupt and dictatorial system the European Union is and how many of the decisions taken by faceless, unelected bureaucrats, directly affect them”. As far as we know he has not complained about being paid by them.

Our UKIP MEP is William, Earl of Dartmouth, hardly short of a bob or two.

There are TWENTY TWO of them costing us millions of pounds a year which could better go to our NHS! AND their salaries have gone up 15% as they are paid in EUROS!

(Nominative determinism is the theory that a person’s name has some influence over what they do with their life).

“Lazy civil servants” upset ?UKIP ?Leader Nigel Farage

“Nigel Farage today revealed he is “probably” still the leader of Ukip following Diane James’s resignation after just 18 days.

The Ukip MEP told HuffPost UK he was looking for confirmation from the Electoral Commission as to whether he was legally still in charge of his party.

The admission came after it was revealed by party sources that James did not submit the relevant forms to the Commission to officially become party leader.

It is believed she wrote the words “under duress” in Latin underneath her signature, rendering the forms void.

Speaking to the HuffPost UK this morning, Farage said: “I don’t want to be leader, but I think legally I probably still am.

“We’re just waiting to speak to the Electoral Commission, but they’re not open yet as they’re lazy civil servants.”

Nigel Farage … called in to advise Donald Trump on how to run an election campaign … Owl can see why.

Honiton hustings for district council includes East Devon Alliance candidate

“Honiton residents will have the chance to quiz candidates for a district council seat in Honiton’s St Michael’s ward.

The opportunity comes off the back of Cllr David Foster’s sudden resignation.

Three candidates – all currently serving on Honiton Town Council – are set to attend a hustings at Honiton Methodist Hall, on Friday, July 15, from 2pm.

They are

Ashley Alder (UKIP),
Henry Brown (Labour) and
John Taylor (Independent East Devon Alliance)

June Brown, chair of Honiton Senior Voice, said: “We have been approached to hold a hustings because we have a proven track record over many years and because people want more information about candidates who present themselves.

“The district council controls many services and it is only right electors get the chance to meet and question those who wish to serve them as councillors. We are very pleased that with one exception the candidates have agreed to come along.”

For more information about Senior Voice and what the organisation does, visit http://www.devonseniorvoice

Hugo doesn’t get Hilary’s vote

Sent by a correspondent:

Couple of good pieces in the online Echo today which hopefully will transfer to the print version tomorrow.

First a report on the Telegraph blog:

And second a report on the News Statesman Hilary Mantel support: