Independent candidate hails East Devon General Election projection

PUBLISHED: 13:50 05 June 2017 | UPDATED: 09:22 06 June 2017

Independent General Election candidate for East Devon Claire Wright. Picture credit: Paula Fernley Photography.

Independent General Election candidate for East Devon Claire Wright. Picture credit: Paula Fernley Photography.

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Independent General Election candidate Claire Wright says her campaign has been boosted by a projection of how people might vote in East Devon.

Conservative General Election candidate for East Devon Sir Hugo Swire. Conservative General Election candidate for East Devon Sir Hugo Swire.

The projection by pollster YouGov on Friday, June 2, gave ‘other’ candidates in the constituency – not representing the major parties – 46 per cent of the projected vote, compared to 36 per cent Conservative.

An update to the projection today (Monday, June 5) gives the Conservatives 40 per cent of the projected vote, compared to 38 per cent for ‘other’.

The margins of error give the Conservatives today a projected low vote of 30 per cent, and a high of 49 per cent, and ‘other’ a projected low of 25 per cent and high of 53 per cent.

Reacting to Friday’s numbers, Ms Wright, who came second in the seat in 2015, and is one of three independent candidates standing, said they showed her strong levels of support, but other candidates disputed the validity and significance of the projection.

Lib Dem General Election candidate for East Devon Alison Eden. Lib Dem General Election candidate for East Devon Alison Eden.

Ms Wright said: “I’m over the moon at the level of support I’m getting and that the people of East Devon are realising they can be part of one of the biggest electoral upsets in UK history.

“On the streets of East Devon, in towns like Sidmouth and Budleigh Salterton, there’s a real sense of excitement. People are coming up to me full of enthusiasm, asking for posters and boards to put up, taking copies of my manifesto to give to their friends.

“After a recent hustings in Exmouth dozens and dozens of people wanted to shake my hand. People are telling me they’re tired of the Tories, tired of attacks on pensioners, and angry with Hugo Swire’s complacency.

“I would love to have the chance to be MP for East Devon. I was born in Devon and I’ve lived in this constituency for most of my life. I love Ottery and East Devon and I want to take the voices of the people straight to Westminster.

Independent East Devon General Election candidate Peter Faithfull. Independent East Devon General Election candidate Peter Faithfull.

“As an independent MP I won’t have to follow a ‘whip’ but I’ll be free to follow my conscience and that of my fellow Devonians.”

Conservative candidate Sir Hugo Swire said: “Claire has fought an energetic campaign and that is to her credit. But the poll that her team cite has been largely discredited in the media because of its methodology.

“Currently there are such big discrepancies between recent polls that it makes all of them extremely difficult to interpret that is why polls always need to be treated with caution. The current variation makes this particularly important.

“I know it’s a cliché to say it but it is true: the only poll that counts is the one on polling day.

Labour General Election candidate for East Devon Jan Ross. Labour General Election candidate for East Devon Jan Ross.

“As for sending an independent to Westminster I say this: because of the make-up of our present system the only way an independent can operate successfully at Westminster is by joining other parties or coalitions and even then they are powerless to drive change as they are in a minority of one.

“Ultimately, independents are accountable only to themselves, which makes it difficult to know where they stand when the deluge of legislation comes before Parliament which it will with Brexit. And you cannot consult your electorate on every issue, every night.”

Liberal Democrat candidate Alison Eden said: “We know from recent campaigns that the polls are unreliable and I don’t think any candidate should take the result in East Devon for granted.

“I am the only candidate in this constituency with a principled, costed and practical plan to save our NHS and social care with a penny in the pound ring fenced for health and social care. I am the only candidate who wants to give the voters a right to a say in the final deal on Brexit. I am the only candidate to be endorsed as the most pro-European and the person to vote for to stop a destructive Brexit (see infacts.org).

UKIP General Election candidate for East Devon Brigitte Graham. UKIP General Election candidate for East Devon Brigitte Graham.

“Even if an independent could win here, they would have little influence at Westminster without the financial and intellectual resources of a national party.

“The constituents of East Devon deserve an MP who is not alone in Westminster but has the support to be an advocate and deliver on the doorstep between elections not just before them.

“It’s what is going to be in the ballot box that matters - not opinion polls or bookies’ odds.”

Independent candidate Peter Faithfull said: “Having seen the YouGov survey it does only state ‘other’ not Claire Wright. It does seem rather arrogant to assume that all of the independent voters are for Claire Wright when there are three independent candidates for East Devon.

“I have never presumed to claim all the independent survey results. Who is to say that the greater majority are not for Michael Val Davies, the other independent candidate on the list.

“We are in strange times when things do not turn out in the way forecasters like to predict.”

A statement by the East Devon Labour Party campaign team said: “Prompted by the publication of the Labour Party Manifesto, the Labour candidate, Jan Ross has been inundated with requests from East Devon voters for more information, re-igniting an interest in politics both locally and across the UK.

“The public responded not only to a campaign based on progressive policies but to a candidate free from self promotion and unsubstantiated rhetoric.

“Jan Ross and her enthusiastic team has concentrated on problems facing both Littleham and Liverpool - housing and homelessness, increased use of food banks, youth unemployment and cuts to health and education services.

“Other local candidates have concentrated on the parochial over the national - short sighted and unrealistic in our view.

“Party workers have been to towns, villages, old and new estates asking people to vote for policy over personality. Independent candidates are short-lived at Westminster without party or trade union support and will be side-lined in national debates.

“The Labour Party represents an alternative future for us all rather than a narrow anti-Tory or anti-Swire campaign.” UKIP candidate Brigitte Graham said: “For all Claire’s positive spin, it should be remembered that the majority of East Devon voted out in the Brexit referendum, whilst Claire Wright is a Remainer, therefore out of tune with the majority of the constituency. This is not Ben Bradshaw’s Exeter!

“Claire must represent the wishes of the majority in her constituency. And as for being endorsed by Gina Miller and her clique of the super wealthy elite, all hoping to reverse the democratic will of 17.4M ordinary people, it just shows how out of touch she is with the majority in East Devon.”

Also standing in East Devon is Michael Val Davies (Independent).

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