Futures Forum: East Devon Parliamentary election >>> a 'safe seat'?
The national media has been very interested in the 'independent' candidates - as in this full-page piece in today's Guardian:
Independent candidates fight to bring their issues to the fore | Politics | The Guardian
The Exeter Express & Echo carried the Telegraph's piece earlier this week on East Devon's independent candidate:
Daily Telegraph writer suggests East Devon's Hugo Swire could lose to Claire Wright on May 7
By Exeter Express and Echo | Posted: May 05, 2015
The Daily Telegraph Asa Bennett has written a feature about East Devon’s Independent candidate Claire Wright who is challenging the Conservative Hugo Swire on Thursday in the General Election. Mr Bennett feels that Mrs Wright has a good chance of toppling the Tory minister.
He writes: “The election could see some upsets, with big names like Nick Clegg and Douglas Alexander under threat. But now Conservative Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire may find himself feeling the pressure due to independent candidate Claire Wright.
“Mr Swire has so far been politically impregnable in his East Devon seat, which he first won in 2001 with a majority of 8,200 votes, going on to build it up to 9,114 in 2010. Conservative pundit Iain Dale expects him to win an increased majority next week, pointing out the "big Lib Dem vote to splinter". In a remarkable display of confidence, Mr Swire wrote to his local newspaper to stress that his East Devon seat should be classified as safe, not a marginal. But the bookies aren't so sure, and as they say in politics, it's good to follow the money.”
According to Mr Bennett the bookies have Mrs Wright down as a possible winner. He wrote that: “Ladbrokes are giving her 5-1 odds to win, better than Ukip (14/1), the Liberal Democrats (66/1) and Labour (100/1). Her odds, originally quoted at 66/1 by William Hill, have improved and now stand at 9/2. Hugo Swire’s odds, however, have deteriorated, slipping from 1/12 in late February to 1/6. So who is this independent threatening Hugo Swire's seat?”
He goes on to say: “Claire Wright, an independent councillor representing the town of Ottery in East Devon, stood for Parliament because she was "angry about the way central government treats its citizens". A local campaigner, the 39 year old worked in the NHS from 2001, in a public relations role, starting numerous health campaigns. She also worked for Devon County Council before becoming a freelance in 2008, serving on Ottery Town Council from 2009 to 2013 and then East Devon District Council.
“In May 2013, Claire was elected to the Devon County Council after securing 2,974 votes which represented 74 per cent of the total vote, making it the biggest share in the South West. She is the leader of the non-aligned group of three Independents on the council and one Green councillor. On the council, she has focussed on two issues: transparency and working to "save the district from the very real threat of over-development".
Independent campaigner: 90 seconds with Claire Wright, East Devon candidate
Odds slashed on Independent Claire Wright winning East Devon seat at general election
Independent contingent hopes to unsettle East Devon District Council's Tory majority at May elections
General Election Candidates announced: includes UKIP, Left Unity and Independents
Daily Telegraph writer suggests East Devon's Hugo Swire could lose to Claire Wright on May 7 | Exeter Express and Echo
This is the sitting MP's riposte - also in the Express & Echo:
East Devon's Hugo Swire: a scenario of what could happen on Friday
By Exeter Express and Echo | Posted: May 05, 2015
Hugo Swire is defending his East Devon Seat for the Conservatives
In an interesting letter to this newspaper Hugo Swire the Conservative candidate for East Devon has painted a picture of what may happen this Friday after the election is over.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Government Minister who is defending his seat in East Devon gives his take on one of the possibilities that could happen and asks readers to back his party.
He writes: "Can I throw up a scenario? It’s May the 8th and the Conservatives have just won the election; 290 seats to Labour’s 260. But no-one is feeling particularly exhilarated, in fact there is an impending sense of doom and gloom. The Liberals are down from 57 MP’s to 26.
"It means we can’t form a workable coalition and with Nick Clegg losing his seat in Sheffield and Danny Alexander his in Scotland, Conservatives backbenchers have not much appetite to team up with what’s left over on the yellow benches. There are however, UKIP and Ulster Unionists to help get bills through Parliament. Except in the negotiation process they are not that accommodating; talks fall apart because their demands are excessive and unworkable particularly with the timing of an EU referendum.
"David Cameron decides to go ahead with a minority Government and the inevitable happens; he cannot carry a Queen’s Speech and as a result he loses a vote of confidence. So what happens next? Because of the new rules around fixed-term parliaments, Ed Miliband is asked by the Queen to try and form a Government. Mr Miliband does not want to fight another election as he and his party are broke so he turns to his sworn enemies the SNP - who stole most of his seats in Scotland - and six Plaid Cymru MPs, and creates the ‘Tartan-Plaid Pact’.
"But this still leaves him short of a majority so where does he turn? The Lib Dems of course, under Tim Farron, who has stepped over all kinds of Liberal dead bodies in his post and pre-election leadership bid to get where he is. Farron has also abstained from a Vote of Confidence against Labour because they are broke as well. Milliband calculates that coming second in the General Election means he needs to lend legitimacy to a minority Labour government and reduce the party's reliance on the SNP. He signs up the Liberal Democrats and a new Government is born.
"Now the Trouble really starts. The two fishes (Salmond and Sturgeon) start a two pronged attack, one from Scotland and one from England, on destroying the Union. Every time Miliband tries to push through legislation, Ms Sturgeon rings up her negotiation partner, Alex Salmond, who is now the leader of a large group of SNP MPs at Westminster, and says “get me more”. Miliband is powerless and gives in to her demands which in turn infuriate the English who are being asked to send more of their hard earned cash up North. Meanwhile, as Sturgeon and Leanne Wood’s star is in the ascendant on their home turf for delivering all these concessions, Labour’s is plunging, particularly in their tribal heartlands of the North East where their voters are joining Douglas Carswell’s UKIP in droves.
"Even if Miliband wanted to call an election he does not dare; the ‘Fishes’ are now playing with the increasingly pro-independence Conservatives in the same pool, who are only mirroring the anti-Scottish sentiment of the country and becoming popular as a result. Miliband knows the SNP could easily team up with the Tories in a vote of no confidence for labour; he can do nothing but offer up more concessions. What will they be? Cancellation of Trident? Complete reversal of welfare reform? Trade Union reforms? Another Scottish referendum? The Conservatives are gagging at the bit to get back in and sort the mess out, as they usually do, but because of the fixed term no election is called.
"Meanwhile the chaos increases with the House of Lords throwing out all legislation particularly the SNP one about banning them. Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas; the SNP of course have no Peers because they hate the second chamber. Labour resorts to the Parliament Act ramming legislation through.
"The media start reporting that the country is now living under a dictatorship. The Queen is dragged in, asked to withhold royal assent to measures that break up the Union. Next: Constitutional lawyers’ start to struggle to work out how Parliament can be dissolved. The financial markets collapse. Britain becomes ungovernable.
"Granted, this is a worst case scenario, but is it so far-fetched? In this election there is a clear choice: The competence of a strong Conservative team Or any other. Any other, risks chaos. And chaos always filters down to the regions, even to us here in East Devon. Vote Conservative on May 7th."
Reader’s Letter: Hugo Swire should focus on issues
East Devon General Election 2015: 90 Seconds with Hugo Swire of the Conservative Party
A letter from Hugo Swire: East Devon is a safe seat not marginal
Update: East Devon MP Hugo Swire defends benefits claimants joke at Tory fundraiser
Woodbury Park hotel near Exeter on market for 12m
East Devon's Hugo Swire: a scenario of what could happen on Friday | Exeter Express and Echo