“Have your say on changes to East Devon constituency boundary”

The East Devon constituency is set to lose part of Exeter (St Loyes) and instead gain Exe Valley in new proposals published today by the Boundary Commission. The Tiverton and Honiton constituency is unchanged.

Is our Electoral Office up to dealing with this change, given its many problems with the area it already covers?

“The Boundary Commission for England (BCE) today (Tuesday) opens its third and final consultation after revising half of its initial suggestions based on 25,000 public comments.

The body has been tasked with making independent recommendations about where the boundaries should be in order to cut the number of MPs from 650 to 600 and ensure that the number of electors in each constituency is equal.

The initial proposal for East Devon, currently held by Sir Hugo Swire, also saw it gain Cowley, Stoke Cannon and Up Exe from Mid Devon, which remains.

Sam Hartley, secretary to the BCE, said: “We’re delighted with the huge number of comments on our initial proposals that we’ve received from members of the public, many of which contain valuable evidence about people’s local communities.

“Based on what people have said to us, we have revised more than half of our initial proposals.

“The new map of the country we publish today is, we think, close to the best set of Parliamentary constituencies we can achieve, based on the rules to which we work and the evidence given to us by local citizens.

“But we still want people to tell us what they think of this latest map before we make our final recommendations to Parliament next year. It’s so important to have your say in this fundamental democratic exercise.”

As part of the BCE’s brief. the number of constituencies in the South West must reduce from 55 to 53. By law, every constituency it proposes must contain between 71,031 and 78,507 electors, as East Devon already does, with 73,355 people registered to vote.

The constituency consists of Broadclyst, Budleigh, Clyst Valley, Exe Valley, Exmouth Brixington, Exmouth Halsdon, Exmouth Littleham, Exmouth Town, Exmouth Withycombe Raleigh, Newton Poppleford and Harpford, Ottery St. Mary Rural, Ottery St. Mary Town, Raleigh, Sidmouth Rural, Sidmouth Sidford, Sidmouth Town, Whimple, Woodbury and Lympstone, and Topsham.

People have until 11 December to comment. Visit http://www.bce2018.org.uk to respond to the consultation. If agreed by Parliament, the new constituencies will be in use at the next scheduled General Election in 2022.”

http://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/have-your-say-on-changes-to-east-devon-constituency-boundary-1-5241053

Where’s Hugo and Neil? Hugo adored Boris’s speech and doesn’t think politically uneducated 16-year olds should be allowed to vote, Neil is worrying about farmers and plastic bottles

Anyone caught sight of Swire or Parish at the party conference? All we have from Hugo today are a couple of tweets on his Twitter account but they could have come from anywhere – Saudi, Maldives, Mid-Devon … and tweets on protecting farmers, plastic bottles and a desperate hope for a last-ditch meeting about Axe Valley college.

But we DO know Hugo adored Boris, as he re-tweeted:

“The most barnstorming speech of the conference so far. You’ve got to give it to him!”

and

He doesn’t like the idea of 16 year old voters unless they learn what’s best for them in school:

“Against 16 yrs old voting but might be prepared to look at it if politics and constitutional history were compulsory subjects in schools.”

So what’s different about 17 and 18 year old voters who didn’t get inculcated at school?

Looks like the education cuts and teacher shortages mean he won’t be changing his mind soon …!

And Neil?

His tweets today have been on:

Protecting farmers:

“My piece for @politicshome @housemagazinecz on food, farming & Brexit talks. @CommonsEFRA will be ensuring @DefraGovUK stands up for farmers”

Toadying to Gove on plastic bottle deposits

90% of plastic bottles are recycled in Denmark & Germany. We need a bottle deposit scheme here too. @michaelgove is right to be in favour.

and

Shutting the door after the 6th form horse has bolted at Axminster Academy which has announced closure of its 6th form:

“Urgent meeting set up with @AxeValleyCC & now writing to @JustineGreening . We must find a solution for A-Level Axe Valley pupils locally.”

EDDC has other ways of raising cash … but not votes

Owl says: shame they couldn’t put the same amount of effort into getting voters to register. CEO Williams said it was much too dangerous to go around the dark, rural roads in East Devon seeking them out.

Owl hopes the officers tasked with weeding out these miscreants have had good martial arts training for dealing with those elderly widows, widowers and single mums!

And just as well officer time is never costec when accounting for how such an exercise!

Council Tax paying resis who wrongly claim they live alone and get a council tax discount are being targeted in East Devon. Checks are beginning this month to ensure that the 21,000 East Devon householders who currently claim a 25% discount for living alone are still entitled to it.

Councillor Ian Thomas, portfolio holder for finance, said “anyone genuinely claiming a reduction should not be concerned. However, if you are found to be deliberately misleading the council, you could face a penalty of £70, as well as having to repay the discount,” he added.”

[Source: BBC Devon]

“Do we need political parties?”

A view from a German writer:

“In many Western countries, party structures are dissolving. Traditional political organisations are disintegrating, being swept away by new movements, or infiltrated by fresh members. There is not much left of the once-defining role of classical parties. And the examples are abundant.

In France, the traditional party system has decayed. The Socialists, after being the governing party in Paris until spring, have practically ceased to exist. Other traditional parties have also been hit hard, replaced by movements such as Emmanuel Macron’s “En Marche!” and Jean-Luc Melenchon’s “La France insoumise”.

The US’ once-lofty Republicans – the self-proclaimed “Grand Old Party” – have now disintegrated into separate wings, whose positions differ to the extent that a common programme is hardly recognisable. And the party organisation is so weak that it could be captured by a non-politician like Donald Trump.

Until recently in the UK, the Labour Party, which had been positioned in the pragmatic centre, has moved vehemently to the left. It was infiltrated by an influx of often young new members, who celebrate the party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn – formerly a marginal figure in the political life of the island – as a pop star.

In Italy, the populist Five Star Movement of former comedian Beppe Grillo has been unsettling the political system for some years. On the right, the former regional party “Lega Nord” is expanding with new national-populist content.

There’s an evolving pattern. Traditional political structures are breaking up, liquefying political systems. People are becoming more important than parties, and posing seems more relevant than policies.

Politicians who have served their time and worked their way up through party ranks are ousted by outside figures with star attributes – cheered along by citizens, who suddenly behave like fans. [Watch out Hugo!]

Still, there’s a prominent exception: Germany.

Or so it would seem. Large parties and their established top figures still dominate the political scene. At the top are well-tempered characters like Angela Merkel, the chancellor, and Martin Schulz, the Social Democratic contender. And, above all, both of them promise that as little as possible is going change.

But this is just the visible surface. In Germany, like elsewhere in Europe, the political system is being transformed. Anger and frustration are on the rise – sentiments which parties like the far-right AfD are only able capture to a small extent.

The next federal government will likely be formed by a coalition that promises stability on the verge of boredom. However, this does not preclude the possibility of unexpected turns in regard to specific topics.”

https://euobserver.com/opinion/138989

“Five areas in England to pilot voter ID checks” – unfortunately ours isn’t one of them

“Voters in five areas in England will be asked to take identification to polling stations at local elections next year as part of a pilot scheme.
People in Woking, Gosport, Bromley, Watford and Slough will be asked to take different forms of ID with them to see which works best.

The Electoral Commission recommended three years ago that voters be asked to prove their identity.

Minister Chris Skidmore said the aim was to ensure the system was “secure”.
Reports of “personation” in polling stations – votes cast in someone else’s name – increased from 21 in 2014 to 44 in 2016.

Mr Skidmore said the current situation meant it was harder to take out a library book or collect a parcel than it was to vote in someone else’s name.
He told the BBC: “We currently have a situation where people can go into the ballot station, point out their name on the register, don’t need to provide any information to prove who they are.”

He said it was corrosive to democracy if people did not believe the system was secure.

“At the moment we simply don’t know if people are impersonating one another or not. We just need to make sure that the system is secure enough.”
For some years, voters in Northern Ireland have had to prove their identity at polling stations.

But Tom Brake, for the Liberal Democrats, described the latest proposals as “a completely unnecessary move that risks undermining our democracy by preventing millions of people from voting”.

“Evidence from around the world tells us forcing voters to bring ID won’t stop determined fraudsters, but is likely to led to even lower turnouts amongst young people and minority groups.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-41287240

Plymouth postal votes fiasco gets fierce criticism; EDDC’s SECOND postal vote fiasco still awaiting scrutiny

Our fiasco here:
https://eastdevonwatch.org/2017/07/17/eddc-second-postal-votes-fiasco-will-be-scrutinised/

Plymouth fiasco here:

Plymouth City Council has received a report into electoral issues that led to problems at the last general election.

Between 150 and 200 people were unable to vote, and about 2,000 postal ballots were not sent out.

An independent report headed by Dr Dave Smith, the former chief executive of Sunderland City Council, looked into all aspects of the way the election was managed.

He will present it to full council on 25 September.

The council said his recommendations included telling it to:

Act swiftly to permanently recruit enough suitably experienced electoral registration staff to ensure the elections team is up to recommended staffing levels

In the meantime, ensure there are enough interim staff with sufficient operational experience to manage the team, build capacity and ensure focus

Make sure sufficient resources and properly documented systems, procedures and processes are put in place to ensure a successful election canvass and prepare for local elections in 2018 and plan for a future general election

Develop a more detailed communications plan with key stakeholders to ensure effective election communications especially when unusual situations arise

Carry out an independent review in January 2018 to ensure the council is suitably prepared for elections in May 2018″

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-devon-41161495

Tory donor and tax avoider – go together like a horse and carriage

The Canary has provided a handy copy-and-keep list of the top Tory election donors, and it’s a real rogues’ gallery. Check out these creeps:

The Tories’ top donors included:

JCB Service – £1.5m. It’s owned by Anthony Bamford, who was not only named in the Panama Papers, but who operates JCB out of tax haven Bermuda.

John C Armitage – £1.1m. Armitage is the founder of Egerton Capital, a hedge fund that enables [xml] tax avoidance for investors.

John Griffin – £1.03m. Griffin and his private hire firm Addison Lee were caught up in a lobbying scandal in 2012.

Mark J. C. Bamford – £750,000. The younger brother of Anthony Bamford, owner of JBC Service, he was caught up in a row over a JCB subsidiary, JCB research, which, while only worth £27,000, was the biggest Tory donor in the run-up to the 2010 general election.

Andrew E Law – £525,000. Law is a hedge fund owner [paywall] whose firm Caxton Associates is registered in the US tax avoidance state of Delaware.
David J Rowland – £312,500. The Canary conducted a major investigation into Rowland in 2016, and described his offshore tax affairs as “mind blowing”.
Lord Michael Ashcroft – £500,000. Ashcroft has been involved in several tax avoidance scandals. He also co-authored the book at the centre of the David Cameron ‘Pig gate’ scandal.

Other Tory donors [pdf p3-5] during the election period included:

Sir Henry and Lady Keswick – £150,000. Keswick’s company Jardine Matheson was linked to tax avoidance via Luxembourg and has numerous subsidiaries in tax haven Bermuda.

Charles ‘Julian’ Cazalet – £10,000. Cazalet is a non-executive director of NHS private provider Deltex Medical Group.

Malcolm Healey – £100,000. Healey was fined by HMRC in 2015 for making £8.6m [pdf] by using a tax avoidance scheme.

Bruce Hardy McLain – £100,000. McLain’s private investment firm CVC Capital Partners is currently embroiled in a £5m bribery and tax avoidance scandal involving Formula One.

Ayman and Sawsan Asfari – £100,000. Ayman is currently under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office. He also runs oil company Petrofac, which avoids tax via Jersey.

Rainy City Investments – £100,000. Owned by Peter and Fred Done, who were fined £800,000 by the Serious Fraud Office over money laundering allegations.

Investors in Private Capital Ltd – £150,000. Co-owned by James ‘Jamie’ Reuben, family friend of George Osborne, it paid no UK corporation tax in 2014 [pdf p13], despite a turnover [pdf p17] of £35m.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/08/27/top-tory-election-donors-appear-to-be-tax-avoiders-money-launderers-and-private-health-bosses/