Zorro was intrigued to see the full list of the candidates standing in this general election for the East Devon seat. It was a racing certainty that incumbent MP Hugo Swire (The Conservative Party) would throw his hat into the ring as after all the eat is his and his Party’s to lose, and therefore given his age, why would he voluntarily give this role up unless he had something more interesting and/or lucrative for he and Mrs Swire to do?
It became fairly clear from the moment that the Prime Minister stepped up to the lectern outside Number 10 on 18 April to call a snap general election that local high profile Independent, and a candidate in the 2015 general election, Claire Wright firstname.lastname@example.org, was taking soundings from friends and political supporters as to whether she should stand again. Loyal readers will recall that in the last general election Claire Wright http://www.claire-wright.org/ came a very credible second polling a quarter of the votes. This was a truly credible performance, particularly for a candidate who had no political party machine or funding behind her.
And so Zorro and Mrs Zorro were unsurprised to see confirmation yesterday that Claire Wright’s name would be on the ballot paper alongside Hugo Swire.
At that point what was most intriguing was whether the Green Party, the Liberal Democrats and/or the Labour Party would accept and recognise that standing their own candidates would be foolhardy vanity politics as all they would be able to do, apart from raising their party’s profile in the Constituency, would be to take votes from Claire Wright, thus making Hugo Swire’s task easier. Through Zorro’s Twitter postings a challenge had been put to all three of these parties to stand aside to allow Claire Wright a clear run at Hugo.
It was with disappointment but in truth little surprise to formally find out yesterday that both the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party were fielding candidates. So much for any idea of a coalition of progressives, or a progressive alliance! To their credit the Green Party isn’t putting up a candidate.
The Labour Candidate, Janet Ross, polled badly in the recent Devon County Council elections failing to get elected in the Broadclyst Electoral Division. Although looking on the bright side she polled 5 more votes than he co-Labour Party candidate. So, she must have something, doesn’t she?
We have Alison Eden standing for the Liberal Democrats. Alison was elected for her party last September to Teignbridge Council. So, like Hugo Swire, she doesn’t live in East Devon. At least all of the other candidates do!
Oh what about UKIP I hear readers asking? This time around the dear old Kippers, who really do appear to be down on their luck, which must bring a smile to Hugo Swire’s face as their votes are most likely to come from his, are fielding Brigitte Graham. Brigitte stood in the recent Devon County Council elections for UKIP in the Exmouth Electoral Division.
In the County Council election Brigitte explained what she stood for – “I am married to Gavin Graham and I live in East Budleigh. I have run my own business, since 1985, so I understand the pressures on small enterprise. I care passionately about East Devon, and despair at the wonton destruction of our green spaces. Pot holes in the roads are dangerous and are a result of neglect; I would bring pressure to repair our infra-structure. Local housing for local people is vitally important to help people born in the area stay here. We need to ensure that so called affordable homes are genuinely affordable for our local people.
UKIP does not ask me to 'toe the party line' unlike the other parties. I will truly represent our local people. Despite what you might read in the Press, the grass roots membership of our Party continues to grow, with hundreds of councillors across the country representing local people. I am looking forward to the challenge! If you want to see democracy in action, please vote for me on 4th May”.
Unfortunately for Brigitte the electors in the Exmouth seats didn’t buy into her vision! And Zorro suspects that the electors across the whole of East Devon won’t either on 8 June! So, say goodbye to another £500 plus of UKIP’s millionaire backer’s money!
What was most surprising to Zorro when pursuing the list of candidates was the fact that in addition to Claire Wright there are two other independent candidates – Michael Val Davies and Peter Faithfull?
Peter Faithfull’s name was already known to Zorro as he is an East Devon County Councillor for Ottery St Mary. The thing that bemuses and concerns Zorro is the fact that Peter took his EDDC seat as an East Devon Alliance candidate! The EDA is the local home of independents!
Zorro hears that Peter Faithfull isn’t standing with the EDA’s blessing. Zorro leaves it to readers to decide upon Peter Faithfull’s motives in standing. He may find that politics is a pretty unforgiving vocation and that in 2020 his support in the District Council elections could tumble if voters decide that his actions in this election undermine those who have a better chance of taking the seat from the Conservatives.
The equally bizarre entrant into this race to represent the East Devon electorate is one Michael Val Davies. Who’s he Mrs Zorro asked.
Michael seems to hail from Exmouth, writes the odd letter on war heritage to the Guardian and stood as an independent candidate in the Barnsley Central 2011by-election. Even the Zorro children know that Barnsley is a bit up north from East Devon. Michael lost his £500 deposit in that election, as he is bound to do again in this one, and managed to poll a magnificent total of 60 votes or 0.2% of the votes cast! Well played Michael!
Perhaps it was no surprise that this was the case as the BBC's Political Editor for Yorkshire and the North Midlands, Len Tingle, tweeted at the time “Finally caught up with 9th candidate for #BarnsleyCentral. Independent Mike Val Davies forgot to issue an address or phone number- bless”.
Readers may like to read the mini manifesto that the local BBC obtained from Michael in that election – “I would first of all use the humiliation I would have imposed on the entire London political class to press for more time for Barnsley to adjust to lower public spending. The fact is that if entrepreneurs have the ideas to create new jobs Barnsley people can fill them. The hotel I am staying at is a shining example of that.
One thing that has to be fixed though is the state of the roads I will demand that the first call on the £40bn motorists pay in taxes is road repairs. In a broader sense I am standing here because the party loyalties that have been with us for as long as we can remember are dying and I would like to help administer the last rites. If I came near the top in the ballot for private members legislation I would introduce a bill to control the companies who advertise loans at 4000%”
To complete Michael’s humiliation in that election in Barnsley he told the Barnsley Chronicle newspaper that he had 'no chance of winning' the by-election! How prophetic he was! He came a sad and lonely last! And people ask whether history repeats itself. We will find out on 9 June!
Zorro is genuinely intrigued that both Peter Faithfull and Michael Val Davies each have the £500 required to enter this race and which they must know in their heart of hearts they will lose. Equally, Zorro is amazed that if these two are to provide the electors with any idea of who they are and what they are standing for then they will have to produce some written publicity and run some sort of a campaign. To run an effective campaign costs a lot of money which is why Independent candidate Claire Wright is trying to raise £10,000 to support her campaign https://www.crowdpac.co.uk/campaigns/2644/claire-wright.
Neither appears to be on Twitter, so bang goes free social media communication. Mind you, the Labour Party and UKIP candidates don’t seem to have Twitter accounts either, and the Liberal Democrat appears to run a protected Twitter account, so that makes a social media conversation with all of them difficult!
Indeed, Zorro will be intrigued to see who has proposed and seconded the nomination forms for both Peter Faithfull and Michael Val Davies, and who has added their names to the other eight electors are who signed, as is required to allow a candidate’s name to reach the ballot paper!
So, what do we know having now seen the list of candidates standing in East Devon? In Zorro’s opinion it will be a two horse race, as it was last time around. The big question will be whether the supporters of both the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats have the desire to unite behind Claire Wright rather than playing fantasy politics by voting for their partties’ tribal candidates. This is the only way to give Claire Wright a real chance at creating the political upset that East Devon needs.