Tomorrow is decision-day for Tiverton & Honiton: united we can win

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‘In this election, many will find tactical voting the only way forward.’
– Gill Westcott, Green candidate

Tomorrow we, the voters of Tiverton & Honiton, choose our MP. We have a unique opportunity, in the face of the most deceitful, corrupt and authoritarian Tory government in living memory, to get a decent, honest MP who will oppose its mounting crimes against democracy.

Richard Foord is not just the Liberal Democrat candidate. He is the candidate of all Labour, Green and independent voters who wish for change in this election.

UNITED we can defeat the dismally ignorant Conservative candidate who will simply be a tool of Boris Johnson and his party machine.

As Gill Westcott, the Green Party candidate, says in today’s Midweek Herald: ‘In this election, many will find tactical voting the only way forward.’

This is grown-up politics. In other words, don’t vote for me, but vote Liberal Democrat because they can WIN!

Time to end decades of being taken for granted by complacent Tory MPs

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My latest column in today’s Midweek Herald.

I imagine that most readers are simply exasperated that Boris Johnson, despite being so comprehensively disgraced, has still not gone. He has lost the confidence of the public in Devon and across the country, but he continues to cling to power. Finally, his MPs managed to hold a vote of no confidence and many of them voted against him. But it seems that still the majority will back him come what may.

In their party best: Hurford and Johnson hiding from the public together for a photo-opportunity in a supporter’s garden.

The spinelessness of East Devon’s Conservatives

It is sadly no surprise to find that our local Conservative representatives appear to be among these. Simon Jupp, the MP for the East Devon constituency, had said he was waiting for the Sue Gray report to make up his mind. Well the Metropolitan Police issued Johnson with a fixed penalty, Gray issued a damning report, and still Mr Jupp had nothing to say. We must assume he’s one of the MPs who backed Johnson but was too ashamed of it to let his constituents know. Maybe Johnson promised to make him a junior minister for paper clips next time round?

What is it with the East Devon Conservatives? Having produced over the last decade one councillor, Graham Brown, who was caught offering to fix planning for large sums of money, an Alderman, John Humphreys, who was convicted of appalling rapes, and now an MP, Neil Parish, who had to resign for watching porn in the House of Commons, the rest of them just seem to be particularly spineless.

Certainly their by-election candidate in the Tiverton and Honiton constituency, Helen Hurford, is in no hurry to break the rule. Still silent on virtually all the issues of the day, Ms Hurford sat out the Johnson confidence vote and waited until the prime minister had won before making a comment, to the effect that she gave him her support. If voters are misguided enough to return her to Parliament on June 23rd, don’t expect her to be outspoken about East Devon’s interests –  or anything else.

A captive of the party machine

We only have to look at Ms Hurford’s campaign literature to see that this very inexperienced politician – she only recently became a town councillor – has already become captive to her party machine. How else to explain that she put out a leaflet addressed to the voters of ‘Tiverton, Honiton and the surrounding villages’, seemingly unaware that Seaton, Axminster and Cullompton are substantial towns? The leaflet was clearly written by some advertising person from London, but why didn’t the candidate put them right?

More serious was the leaflet on yellow paper which contained a collection of smears and distortions about the Liberal Democrats. The leaflet had Ms Hurford’s name in tiny print at the bottom but no indication at all that it was produced by the Conservatives. This leaflet has now attracted national notoriety – why didn’t the candidate veto it?

Most concerning of all to me was that she used Seaton’s community hospital for a photo opportunity, claiming that there are hundreds of new nurses ‘in our area’. This is the hospital that lost its beds and was almost demolished for housing development because of her government’s policies and the refusal of Devon Conservative councillors to block the closures. Given the national shortage of beds, the hospital ward could be put back to use – but the shortage of nurses is so chronic that it probably couldn’t be staffed as things stand.

Support Richard Foord on the 23rd

This is my last column before the by-election, in which we have the chance to end decades of being taken for granted by complacent Conservative MPs. Richard Foord, the Liberal Democrat candidate, has been on the doorsteps in Seaton and Axminster and is running an honest – and vocal – campaign. I will not be going as far as my East Devon Alliance colleague, Paul Arnott, and actually joining the Liberal Democrats. I intend to remain independent of any national party. But I urge all my readers to support Mr Foord on the 23rd.

Tactical voting is the authentic choice for Labour supporters

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Labour candidate, Liz Pole, has told Labour supporters that tactical voting is ‘inauthentic’ and even ‘a Tory strategy’. However I would argue that tactical voting is the authentic choice for Labour supporters in the Tiverton & Honiton by-election.

Under a proportional voting system, that would not be true. But under First Past the Post, which we have, when there is a chance of an opposition candidate ousting the Conservatives, you have to choose the best-placed candidate. And everyone in Labour, from Keir Starmer downwards, knows that – as Exeter’s Labour MP Ben Bradshaw said – the Lib Dems could win this by-election. Labour can’t.

Liz and local Labour really can’t complain. Labour, from Tony Blair to Jeremy Corbyn, has helped to maintain First Past the Post knowing that it makes Labour voting in areas this an ineffective gesture at best.

I have a Labour-inclined friend who’s over 90 years old. He’s lived all his life in this area, wasting his vote. Now he, like the rest of us, has the opportunity to cast an authentic vote for change. Not for Labour it is true, but for a Liberal Democrat candidate who agrees with most of the things that Labour agrees with and is determined to remove Boris Johnson’s far-right-leaning Tory government.

Sure, the Lib Dems are not perfect – the Coalition and all that. Nor are Labour – the Iraq War, Brexit, etc, etc. But we face a binary choice: the Lib Dems’ Richard Foord or the Tory yes-woman.

Tactical voting a Tory strategy? No, they’re scared as hell that we’ll all coalesce around the Lib Dems. They’d like nothing better than for people to vote Labour and help them to squeeze the Lib Dems out.

In my next post, I’ll put a way Labour supporters can help Labour at the same time as voting to get the Tories out here – it’s called Vote Swap.

Tory members won’t vote for Boris Johnson in crunch Devon by-election

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East Devon Watch

“I don’t think I’d recognise the new candidate, Helen thingy, if she walked past me. She’s made no effort with the [Conservative] Club. We’ve had no leaflets or posters delivered and as far as I can see the party is doing its best to hide her from the voters because its scared of what she might actually say.”

(She’s the one next to Alison Hernandez – Owl)

By David Parsley

Conservative voters in Tiverton and Honiton are torn on whether Boris Johnson is an electoral asset or liability ahead of the by-election on 23 June.

The resignation of Conservative MP Neil Parish after he was caught watching pornography on his phone in the House of Commons has thrown this sleepy Devon constituency into the national spotlight.

Parish left behind a 24,000 majority, and despite coming in third at the 2019 General Election the Liberal Democrats are hopeful of pulling…

View original post 516 more words

Tory candidate’s anti-Lib Dem leaflet doesn’t say it’s from the Conservatives

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The Tories are clearly desperate. They’ve resorted to a collection of anti-Lib Dem smears but nowhere does the leaflet say it’s on behalf of the Conservative Party – just a tiny imprint with the candidate’s name to keep it within the law.

Barely 48 hours left to register to vote in the by-election (or get a postal vote)

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If you’ve moved house, or into the area, recently you may not be on the electoral register. You will lose your vote in the June 23 by-election unless you register by midnight on Tuesday (June 7th). Click here to register.

If you’ll be away from home on June 23rd, click here to download an application for a postal vote, print it off and return immediately (to arrive by Wednesday June 8th) to

Electoral Registration Officer
Blackdown House
Border Road
Heathpark Industrial Estate
EX14 1EJ

Seaton & Axminster are just ‘villages’ according to ignorant Tory publicists

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Fed up with reading about Tiverton police station? Wondering why Tory leaflets have nothing to say about Seaton or Axminster?

Well their latest proclaims their two-year plan ‘for Tiverton, Honiton and the surrounding villages‘. It reads like it’s been written by some parachuted-in advertising man who’s no idea that Seaton and Axminster are substantial towns, not much smaller than Honiton.

Tory by-election candidate uses hospital her party took the beds out of for photo-opportunity

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Conservative by-election candidate Helen Hurford – who has yet to comment publicly on anything, including Boris Johnson’s future – is pictured outside Seaton Hospital under the heading ‘Supporting Our Local NHS’ in her latest leaflet.

This is the hospital from which the beds were removed in 2017 after

  • chronic Tory underfunding forced the Devon NHS to close community hospital beds;
  • Tory pressure to save the threatened Tory MP in Sidmouth led the NHS to change its plans to close Seaton’s beds instead;
  • Conservative councillors on the Health Scrutiny Committee blocked our move to refer the closures for further consideration.

Please remember this when you vote on June 23rd. Far from ‘securing more nurses for our area’, Conservative underfunding and lack of support for nursing means that local hospitals are chronically understaffed. The NHS probably couldn’t find the nurses to re-open the Seaton Hospital ward if they wanted to.