Proposed new Honiton constituency offers the opposition a chance – let’s have an open Progressive Primary to select a candidate

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The Boundary Commission’s proposal of a new Honiton parliamentary constituency (name in red, red boundaries in above map), stretching from Axmouth to Cullompton and Sidmouth to Yarcombe, and including the Seaton and Colyton area, gives the opposition to Conservative misrule an opportunity to get its act together and send Neil Parish on his way to early retirement.

Because the new constituency is more compact and (apart from Cullompton) it is all in East Devon district, it will be easier to campaign in, and the various opposition forces know each other through local politics. On the record of recent general elections in the Tiverton and Honiton constituency, it should be very safe for the Tories, and it is not obvious that any of the opposition forces, by themselves, can defeat them. Labour have been second in the last three elections in Tiv & Hon, but very far behind.

HOWEVER the constituency includes Ottery St Mary and Sidmouth, the base from which Claire Wright ran the Tories ever closer between 2015 and 2019, and all the constituency’s towns – Seaton, Axminster, Sidmouth, Ottery, Honiton and Cullompton – are represented by opposition councillors at district level, while in several the Tories were run close in the recent county elections.

If the opposition parties and Independents stand against each other at the next General Election, a Tory victory is a foregone conclusion. But what if we have a Progressive Alliance between the main opposition forces, and an open PROGRESSIVE PRIMARY in which supporters of a united opposition candidate sign up to vote for the best person to stand against the Tory candidate?

This would be a fair and democratic way to decide who the standard-bearer should be. The person who’s voted in will have the wider legitimacy of being chosen by several thousand local people and supported by all the parties and groups which have signed up to the project. There will be none of the divisive arguments about tactical voting that marred Claire Wright’s campaign.

What’s not to like? Obviously, this goes against current Labour, Lib Dem and Green approaches to elections. But we have two years, perhaps, to persuade the parties to change.

To those who say this is unrealistic – how else can we dislodge the Tories under First Past The Post in areas like this?

(PERSONAL DISCLAIMER: I am NOT interested in standing.)

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