Month: November 2019

Labour’s secretly pro-European candidate criticises me for not backing her tactically – she doesn’t mention Brexit in her election leaflet!

Posted on

The Labour candidate for Tiverton & Honiton, Liz Pole, has made an extraordinary attack on me on Facebook for not endorsing a Devon for Europe recommendation to vote tactically for her. D4EU has changed its advice that the situation in the constituency is ‘ambiguous’ to a Labour recommendation, but I pointed out:
Martin Shaw The YouGov MRP poll gives a central estimate for Labour 19% and LDs 16%, Tories 57%. There really isn’t a tactical vote in Tiv & Hon. I recommend voting for the opposition party which best represents your views.
Liz Pole replied:
Elizabeth Pole  Martin Shaw I note your attempt to undermine Devon for Europe’s hard work and and my campaign and your lack of understanding of the concept of teamwork. Please take your divisive partisan comment elsewhere. 
Then I looked at her election leaflet (above) – it doesn’t even mention Brexit, Europe or a second referendum, yet she wants us to vote tactically for her on these grounds!
I’ve now stated that I will publicly endorse (in Tiverton & Honiton) the first of Labour, Lib Dems or the Greens to put their money where their mouth is on tactical voting – by urging their supporters in the neighbouring East Devon constituency to vote tactically for Claire Wright against the parachuted Tory candidate. Until then I stick to my advice to vote according to your own views.
If these parties won’t urge their supporters to vote tactically in East Devon where there IS a genuine tactical option, why should I back them in Tiverton & Honiton where there ISN’T?

Has Boris Johnson promised Sidmouth £1.5m funding for its Beach Management Plan? Will Seaton get it too – or is just for constituencies where an Independent is threatening the Conservatives?

Posted on Updated on

The Conservative County Councillor for Sidmouth, Stuart Hughes, tweeted this morning that Boris Johnson was ‘making a pledge that a shortfall of funding of £1.5m to protect Sidmouth from Coastal Flooding would qualify from the £4bn Conservatives have pledged to help address affects of Climate Change‘. This raises several crucial questions:

  1. If Johnson was ‘making a pledge’ does that mean that all that EDDC, which is managing the Sidmouth Beach Management Plan, has to do is to apply for ‘climate change’ funding – and it will be granted? If this isn’t the meaning, then is this merely a bribe which isn’t really a bribe?
  2. Will Johnson make a similar pledge for Seaton, whose Beach Management Plan has a similar shortfall – or is this only available for Sidmouth because it’s in the marginal East Devon constituency which Claire Wright is poised to take from the Conservatives? Will Neil Parish press for a similar pledge for Seaton?
  3. Is this an appropriate use of Climate Change funding, which should surely be used to prevent the rise in carbon emissions, rather than deal with coastal erosion which has been going on in East Devon since time immemorial?

Projection for Tiverton & Honiton shows Neil Parish cruising to victory, Labour and LibDems battling for a poor second place

Posted on


Pollsters YouGov have just released their MRP polling estimates based on 100,000 interviews nationwide and extremely sophisticated application to individual constituencies. These confirm that the Tories are way ahead in Tiverton and Honiton (go HERE and search ‘Tiverton and Honiton’). In percentages it’s

  1. CONSERVATIVES range 50-65, central estimate 57
  2. Labour range 13-26, central estimate 19
  3. Lib Dem range 11-23, central estimate 16
  4. Green Party range 2-8, central estimate 5


Most authoritative polling projection yet shows @ClaireWrightInd narrowing the Tory lead to 47-41: Labour, Lib Dems and Greens are nowhere but their voters could deprive Claire of victory

Posted on

Claire Wright

Pollsters YouGov have just released their MRP polling estimates based on 100,000 interviews nationwide and extremely sophisticated application to individual constituencies. These confirm an extremely tight race in East Devon (go HERE and search ‘East Devon’). In percentages it’s

  1. CONSERVATIVES range 37-57, central estimate 47
  2. CLAIRE WRIGHT range 31-51, central estimate 41
  3. Labour range 2-11, central estimate 6
  4. Lib Dem range 1-7, central estimate 4
  5. Green Party range 0-4, central estimate 2

So Claire could already be in the lead, but on the balance of probabilities the Tories are ahead by just 6 per cent, down from 12 per cent in 2017.

  • So we need a final big push to close the gap
  • Dan Wilson (Labour), Eleanor Rylance (LD) and Henry Gent (Green) have made their parties’ case but are going nowhere – who will be the first to salvage honour from what threatens to be a humiliating result, by recommending that their voters switch to Claire and put beating the Tories ahead of party?
  • Turnout, especially among young voters, will be crucial – if all Claire’s supporters come out to vote, she’ll win. Remember many older voters will already be voting by post for the Tory.


It’s now clear that if the Conservatives win the election, Colyton, Topsham, Budleigh Salterton and five other local fire stations will be closed

Posted on


If nothing’s been heard for a while about the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service’s proposals to close 8 stations and remove second engines from others (which were subject to a consultation that ended in September), that’s because of the General Election.

First, the Fire Authority meeting to make final decisions was postponed from November 8th to December 18th, and then – because that date would have meant publishing definite closure proposals during the election campaign – until January 10th.

Remember that the Authority has a majority of Conservative councillors from Devon and Somerset County Councils. Devon Tories already voted, in October, to block a discussion of the fire station closures at the County Council.

Now the Fire Authority chair, Cllr Sara Randall Johnson – who also chaired the infamous meeting of the Health Scrutiny committee which blocked ‘referring’ the bed closures in East Devon community hospitals – has told me that I and other councillors who represent affected communities, but are not members of the Authority, will not be able to address the Authority meeting on behalf of our communities.

The closures result from cuts to the Fire Service’s funding by Government. Now that the Tories have issued their ‘standstill’ manifesto – with no new funding for public services apart from a few misleading election gimmicks – it is clear that if Boris Johnson wins the election, there will be a new phase of austerity for almost all local services.

In these circumstances, with the election out of the way, the Tory majority on the Fire Authority will have little compunction about ratifying any closures that the Service propose in their response to the consultation.

The message is loud and clear – to save our fire stations, the next step is to deny Boris Johnson his majority and stop 5 years’ more austerity.

Our First Past The Post electoral system forces East Devon voters to make an either-or choice, while it is completely failing non-Tory voters in Tiverton & Honiton

Posted on Updated on


Some people in Seaton and Colyton have asked me why I’m more interested in the General Election campaign in the East Devon constituency than in ours in Tiverton & Honiton.

The answer is very simple – East Devon voters have a real choice. Some might prefer to vote Labour, Lib Dem or Green, but if they want to stop the new parachute-Tory candidate being allowed to continue 150 complacent years of Conservative representation, they do have an answer: Vote for Claire Wright. And an excellent MP she will be.

In Tiv&Hon, realistically, we don’t have a choice at all. The Lib Dems have circulated a leaflet with a diagram based on a genuine independent projection, which shows them closing in on the Tories. If you look at the diagram, it looks close between Lib and Con. But the figures tell a different story: Tory 47.1, LDs 20.5, Lab 13.7, Green 4.7 – and 20% to 47% isn’t exactly a close race. 

The Lib Dem diagram would be a disgrace if it wasn’t laughable. But the joke is on us. The race would be close if LD, Lab and Green shares were combined. Then it would be 37% to 47% and we’d be in with a shout. But it’s a leap of faith too far to think that John Timperley’s leaflet is going to move every non-Tory into his column, and then enough Tories to swing it as well.

There hasn’t been a non-Tory MP in Tiv&Hon in the last century. For all that time, half (and often more than half) the voters have been casting their votes in vain, never electing an MP. It doesn’t mean that voting is a complete waste of time – the parties will count our votes in their national totals. This time we certainly need to show that a big majority of the country are opposed to Boris Johnson.

But how do we actually get ALL our votes to elect an MP? The only way is a system of Proportional Representation. The Labour manifesto in 1997, when Tony Blair won, said: ‘We are committed to a referendum on the voting system for the House of Commons. An independent commission on voting systems will be appointed early to recommend a PROPORTIONAL ALTERNATIVE to the first-past-the-post system.’ It never happened (if it had, then Brexit might not have). Another ‘Blairite’ broken promise? Yes – but Jeremy Corbyn never campaigned to make it happen, either. Labour as a whole more or less abandoned the idea of giving voters in constituencies like Tiv&Hon a meaningful vote.

So – if there isn’t a plausible tactical route in Tiv&Hon, vote for whichever non-Tory best fits your views. And do take into account PR, which both the Lib Dems and the Greens support, as they do Remain. This year’s Labour manifesto only says, rather vaguely, ‘The renewal of our Parliament will be subject to recommendations made by a UK-wide Constitutional Convention, led by a citizens’ assembly.’ Not very specific, and probably not a priority – although if by some chance Corbyn does make it to No. 10, we must put pressure on to make it one.