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TCW Election Watch


MORE readers’ reports from and about your constituencies, on the choice of candidates you have, which of them you plan to vote for and why, what you think of their chances – and your stance on Brexit. See below for how to submit your own report – don’t just leave it below the line.


Current MP Sir Hugo Swire (Conservative)

James Walker writes: East Devon has never returned an MP who was not a Tory. Its previous incarnation, Honiton, was also Conservative, from 1885 to 1992. But all that might change in 2019.

The current incumbent, Sir Hugo Swire, is standing down, having been first parachuted into the constituency in 2001. Sir Hugo’s an emollient fence-sitter and compromiser. After 2010, David Cameron utilised the MP’s easy-going charm, connections and managerial talents in the Foreign Office.

A moderate and temperate man, for the past two decades he has assiduously avoided political boat-rocking and personal controversy. Just as punctiliously, he also avoided the hard graft of a committed constituency MP. Sir Hugo is possessed of highly-refined political instincts, which is probably why he is standing down.

Labour’s brand is historically so toxic in East Devon that it could not win the seat even if its candidate was the only one standing, whilst the LibDems have support but no real oomph.

Combined with the country’s general anger with politicians, it is an independent candidate who has startled Sir Hugo away. Contesting her third election, Claire Wright is a magnet for the area’s anti-Tories, who have steadily increased the intensity of their activities over the past six years, during which ‘safe’ Tory East Devon has seen significant Left-wing entryism. Already a district councillor, she polled 13,000 votes in 2015 and 21,000 in 2017, reducing the Swire majority from 12,000 to 8,000.

Claire Wright and her backers have two aims. Firstly, preach to the converted with a simple, catch-all left-of-centre, green, social justice, anti-Brexit narrative that cheers anti-Tories. Secondly, to pick up votes from the ‘fed up’ and ‘undecided’, by cultivating the image of a moderate, non-partisan neutral, a ‘nice’ campaigner on local issues who represents the antithesis of the Westminster posse that has let the country down. But in reality, Claire Wright is a dyed-in-the-wool socialist Tory-hater.

This is the path that has already been successfully trodden by her fellow-travellers the East Devon Alliance, who posed as a disparate group of ‘independents’ to take advantage of this year’s springtime Brexit malaise and win 11 seats on East Devon District Council. These ‘independents’ then miraculously discovered that they had much in common and morphed into a political force that took control of the council away from the Tories for the first time.

This is Claire Wright’s last chance for a breakthrough and her campaign is tight and sharp. She will get a big turnout. She also has the support of the local newspapers – DevonLive is owned by Reach/Trinity Mirror – and The Guardian. In due course, she will probably benefit from positive coverage from the reliably pro-Left BBC.

One potential problem for the Conservatives has disappeared in that it appears the Brexit Party has withdrawn its candidate, thereby avoiding the loss of a potential 5,000 – 6,000 votes. Nevertheless, the local Tory association seems to be a total shambles. Nothing has been heard from it since Sir Hugo made his intentions public in mid-September. And its website is completely stale and moribund.

The Tories have not yet announced a candidate. If they have any common sense, they will select a female to challenge Claire Wright, thus allowing more flexibility in terms of a negative campaign in which her Corbynistic Left-wing views can be exposed and attacked.

For years, East Devon Conservatives have been lazy and complacent, taking their voters for granted. Unless they get their backsides in gear, my money is on Claire Wright winning a close contest and heading off to Westminster to sit – and vote – with whoever is leading the Labour Party after Corbyn resigns.


Current MP: Helen Jones (Labour)

A constituent writes: There’s outrage here after the Labour politburo parachuted in a hard-Left candidate from London. Essex-born Charlotte Nichols lives 200 miles away in Islington – Jeremy Corbyn’s lair. But, to the fury of many, she’s been gifted this ‘safe’ seat, where the retiring Labour MP, Helen Jones, has a 9,000-odd majority.

Miss Nichols, 28, describes herself as ‘a ginger, Jewish, trade union and community activist’. Unfortunately, going by her social media, she also seems a typical product of today’s Labour Party … achingly right-on and woke, deeply indoctrinated, a Corbynista to the core.

Perhaps most off-putting of all, she calls people ‘comrade.’ And she recently wrote cringe-makingly on Instagram about a stroll she took in London: ‘Walked from Canonbury to Highgate, dipped into the Cemetery to pay respects to Karl & Eleanor Marx and Eric Hobsbawm …’ Yuk!

To be fair, Miss Nichols has previously lived in the North West, although she’s clearly a prospective member of Labour’s metropolitan elite, being a scion of the socialist aristocracy. Her father is Ged Nichols, president of the TUC.

Will her political parachute give her a soft landing? Well, the polling here could be historically close. However, after the ossified reign of Helen Jones, some traditional Labour voters might put aside their misgivings and tick the box for Miss Nichols. But not me. Nor, I suspect, many others. Sorry, Comrade Charlotte, not this time. Not while Corbyn is around.


Current MP: Rosena Allin-Khan (Labour)

A Tory in Tooting writes: Firstly, thank you so much TCW for all your hard work. I am so glad I have found The Conservative Woman – it has made such a big difference to my life, opened up a whole new world, really.

Secondly, would you like to know what’s happening in Tooting?

When Sadiq Khan left to become our esteemed London Mayor in 2016, the seat was taken over by Dr Rosena Allin-Khan. It’s a safe Labour seat and voted to remain by 74 per cent.

Dr Rosena is a campaigner for the ‘People’s Vote’ and against a no-deal Brexit. Electioneering really began a few months ago. I’ve received a stream of emails from Rosena urging me to make sure I get my voice heard.

Despite following the links and informing her of how undemocratic I found her stance, I am not sure she listened, as in return I receive emails instructing me to do things such as signing a petition entitled: ‘Tooting 10,000 against Brexit.’ (Two months down, 4,000 signatures to go, apparently).

Then yesterday a leaflet was put through the door which said simply: Vote Rosena, Vote Remain – The Labour Party. I know Jeremy is accused of being unclear on policy, but here in Tooting our Labour MP’s campaign material clearly suggests that a vote for Labour is a vote to remain.

On an optimistic note, the Brexit Party will probably stand here. And, as a split vote for Leavers will make no difference here, Dr Rosena can at least be assured that the Brexiteers of Tooting will definitely be able to make their voices heard.

Keep up the good work, Conservative Woman!

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Edited by Kathy Gyngell

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