Month: May 2019

Which pro-European party should we vote for in the South West in the European elections? – a personal view/3

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Lib Dem logo                                green party logo

I have explained why people who supported the Independents in the local elections should vote for a pro-European party. But why vote for a party, not an Independent candidate, and which should we vote for?

We can’t vote for an Independent because the voting system is based on party lists for the whole South West region. There isn’t a good Independent candidate anyway.

I don’t think we should vote for Labour because it isn’t a clearly pro-European party, even if it isn’t a clearly pro-Brexit party either – that’s a simplification we don’t need. There are good pro-Europeans among the Labour candidates in the South West, and we will need the support of many Labour MPs to end Brexit. A Labour vote is vastly better than a Tory or Brexit Party vote, but it clearly isn’t the best option.

The pro-European options in the SW are the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and Change UK. From the point of view of ending Brexit, supporting remaining in the EU and supporting a confirmatory vote on any Brexit deal, these are all equally good options.

How to choose between them? Some advocate ‘tactical voting’. I am a fan of tactical voting when it matters. I would probably vote tactically for whichever candidate is best-placed to defeat the Brexit Party in the Peterborough by-election.

However in the European elections, two things matter. One is to get the maximum number of combined votes for the pro-European parties. For this purpose, it doesn’t matter if you vote Lib Dem, Green or CHUK, your vote will still count.

The other is to get the maximum number of pro-European MEPs elected. This is trickier to decide. In 2014, the Greens got an MEP in the SW, the Lib Dems didn’t. The Greens say this means they’re ahead. The Lib Dems made bigger advances in the local elections; they say they’re ahead. CHUK don’t have a track record.

As someone who has studied the voting system, I’d say it is quite possible that both the Greens and LDs can win seats; I don’t know about CHUK. There is a site which claims to show that it would be better to vote tactically for the LDs, but since it doesn’t explain its evidence and assumptions for recommending this, I treat it with caution.

Therefore I don’t think there is a clear tactical basis for preferring LDs or Greens. I’d say, vote for whichever party is closest to your beliefs. LDs, Greens, CHUK and many Labour supporters have marched together to stay in the EU. Let’s vote together, too, and not support any party using these elections to try to steal a march on their fellow European supporters.


Why people who supported the Independents in the local elections should vote for a pro-European party in the European elections – a personal view /2

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Union and EU flagsAfter the local elections, East Devon voters now face another vote, for the European Parliament. Many will not vote – but that would be a mistake, as this is an opportunity to have a say. Some people who supported the Independents in the local elections may vote for the Brexit Party. I’ve explained why I think that’s wrong in my first post. But is there a positive case for Independent supporters to vote for a pro-European party?

My personal view is yes. The same Tory complacent self-entitlement, cosy relationships with business interests, indifference to community needs and even plain corruption – which we have swept away in EDDC – exist at a national level. It is not the EU which has part-privatised our NHS, closed our community hospitals and underfunded our schools, but the same Conservative Government.

Independents have tried to present practical solutions to local problems. Leaving the EU is not a practical solution to any of our problems. The £4 billion which Theresa May has wasted on No Deal Brexit preparations is £4 billion NOT going to our hospitals and schools. The 5,000 nurses from EU who have left our NHS are 5,000 nurses not looking after vulnerable members of our communities. The EU laws which protect our environment, consumer standards and working rights are at risk from any right-wing government which wants to allow standards to lapse. (Ask Nigel Farage why he proposed replacing the NHS by private health insurance.)

Brexit has made Britain’s problems worse. Remember how nice it was at Easter when for a fortnight we didn’t have to talk about Brexit? If we don’t stop it now, we face interminable years of Brexit, Brexit, Brexit. Will that really help with any of our real problems?

Brexit has FAILED. Voting for a pro-European party will make it clear the country recognises that. It will put pressure on MPs to put Britain out of its Brexit misery. Let’s do that on May 23rd.

Who should dissatisfied Leave voters blame for the Brexit mess? The first of three posts on the European elections – please share

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Boris JohnsonThis is the first of three posts about the European elections on May 23rd, written in a purely personal capacity. They will be about: (1) Who should dissatisfied Leave voters blame? (2) Why Independent supporters should vote for a pro-European party. (3) Which party should you vote for? Is there a case for tactical voting?


Over half of East Devon voters supported Leave in 2016 (although 46 per cent did not). Now that Brexit has turned into a shambles, it’s no wonder that people who voted Leave are angry. You vote for something – the Government and MPs should make it happen, yes?

Yet Brexit was never going to be simple. As someone said recently, you’re unpicking 45 years of integration. You’re unpicking the foundations of our economy – millions of British jobs depend on Europe. You’re unpicking our society – making people from other countries who live in the UK feel insecure, so that many (including doctors and nurses) have left. You’re unpicking the Northern Ireland peace process – stirring up new violence in that country.

The first people who should be blamed are Brexit leaders like Boris Johnson who said it would be easy. It was never going to be easy. They lied when they said it would be. They knew about the economy. They knew about Ireland. But they ploughed on. Theresa May has made a huge mess of it, but Leavers like Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg set up this impossible situation in the first place.

Does Nigel Farage actually have any answers, rather than simple slogans?

Nigel Farage photo

Nigel Farage is now posing as the answer. But he was always egging on the Tories into more and more extreme positions. He helped create this mess. Now he has set up a new ‘Brexit Party’. One of its candidates in the South West thinks it’s all right to talk about raping women MPs.

If you’re thinking of voting for Farage, just ask yourself: Has he got an answer to how we get out of the Brexit mess? We know it’s complex – has he really explained how he will do it? Unless you honestly think that there is a thought-out solution there, not just the same kind of simple slogans that got us into this mess in the first place, steer clear of the Brexit Party.

Seaton Town Council has three vacancies to be filled by cooption – do you have something to offer to our community, and could fill one of them?

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Seaton-Logo-smallOnly 9 of the 12 seats were filled in the elections. We nine are a good team and I’d say that the Council is more cohesive than at any time in recent years. A good moment for anyone to come on board – email me if you’d like to talk about the possibility. Details of how to apply are here.

PS Council news – Ken Beer re-elected Mayor and Jack Rowland Deputy Mayor.

Seaton parents start campaign over school funding cuts – this could spread across Devon

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On Tuesday I went to a meeting of parents and others in Seaton Jurassic about this. Real anger over the way the government is (a) underfunding the school system generally and (b) underfunding Devon schools compared to the national average. Reported that Neil Parish failed to turn up to a meeting with headteachers about this. An action group has been set up – contact Abi Jones 07476 913853.