Friday, 17 June 2016

In East Devon: “How Independent are the Independents?”

There is more activity coming out of the movement for 'independent politicians':
Futures Forum: Independence in Democracy >>> Educating Independence

Understandably, this irks the standing MP for East Devon, who takes issue over whether or not these are in fact 'independent':
BLOG: How Independent are the Independents? | Hugo Swire

The 'independent' candidate in the last election has responded:
Claire Wright responds to Hugo Swire’s rant about independents and the “Ottery Pack” | East Devon Watch
Ottery St Mary Hospital - my response to our MP’s latest mud slinging - Claire Wright

The director of the Campaign for a Free Parliament, has  also replied:
Campaign for Free [Independent] Parliament response to Hugo Swire | East Devon Watch

As has the chair of the East Devon Alliance:
EDA invites Hugo Swire to become Independent « East Devon Alliance

This week's View from Sidmouth gave a very handy overview on its front page:

Swire launches attack on ‘independents’

By Peter HodgesJune 15, 2016

EAST Devon MP Hugo Swire has launched a stinging attack on local activists who claim they have no political allegiance.

In a 2000-word blog post on his website, entitled “How Independent are the Independents?”, Mr Swire gave his take on why so many of the Police and Crime Commissioner elections were won by Conservative or Labour candidates instead of independents, as well as questioning the independent nature of the East Devon Alliance (EDA) – East Devon’s newest political party who took East Devon District Council by storm last year winning nine seats in the elections.

Mr Swire wrote: “The East Devon Alliance is a local group of supposed ‘Independents’ yet they have banded together to form an ‘alliance’. They now sit on East Devon District Council as a grouping. There is nothing wrong with that, after all, the SNP, once the underdog in Scotland, is now a significant force at Westminster, it is the natural evolution of how a party gains ground. But it is disingenuous for the East Devon Alliance to suggest they are all stand-alone councillors when they have core values and policies; policies albeit that have been tied irrevocably to a single geographical area. They are also collectively anti-tory, again nothing wrong in that, but it means they are not exactly independent thinking. Besides, The EDA is also registered, as a political party, with the Electoral Commission, so in effect they are contradicting themselves. A hunger to spread their revolution beyond their boundaries will mean they would become another nascent party vying for power in what is quite a crowded field.”

Chairman of the EDA Paul Arnott responded to Mr Swire’s comments saying the EDA are not anti-tory neither are the councillors whipped to vote the same.

Paul Arnott is the Chairman of the East Devon Alliance

Mr Arnott said: “Hugo is wrong that East Devon Alliance Independents operate as a bloc in the council. There are 15 Independents in the Independent group, including nine who are also members of the EDA, and it is a matter of record that every one of them votes as they individually decide. There has never been and never will be the kind of arm-twisting beloved of EDDC’s Tory hierarchy, which itself does a disservice to many excellent Conservative councillors as perturbed by this as us.”

“As to being anti-tory, this is a canard Hugo has tried to float before. In fact, we have just made a submission to the Home Office in support of his colleague Theresa May’s Action Plan on Money Laundering and Terrorist Finance, with reference to the possibility of money laundering through property development. This is as relevant in East Devon as it is to the gleaming new towers of central London.”

“Finally, the EDA registered with the Electoral Commission precisely so that our microscopic spend at the May 2015 elections was open to analysis by the public. We look forward to Hugo’s views regarding a number of his Devon Conservative colleagues whose own Parliamentary electoral expenditure returns are now being investigated by the West Mercia Police”

Mr Swire stormed to victory in the 2015 General Election increasing his majority in the area and winning by more than 10,000 votes but his closest challenge was independent candidate Claire Wright. Mrs Wright received almost a quarter of the vote share – the strongest showing by an independent anywhere in the country.

Swire launches attack on 'independents'

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