Tactical Torment


It’s hard to believe* but we should be in the final year of David Cameron’s second term as Prime Minister. Just think how bad it could have been if we’d voted for chaos with Ed Miliband. We would never have had Theresa May’s strong and stable government for a start.

How we vote matters. Voting matters. If you ignore everything else in this post, please vote carefully.

This general election is not an average election, and not just because it’s third time we’ve been asked to choose our representatives in the last five years. MPs had just passed a Queen’s Speech setting out some bold new domestic agenda. They had also begun debating the legislation required to leave the EU with an agreement.

This is the second time Mr Johnson has got in the way of leaving the EU. He was one of many Conservative MPs who prevented the UK leaving the EU at the end of March.

Whether or not you support Brexit, the fact we have not left the EU yet is important. Until we leave the UK can unilaterally decide to remain in the EU on our current terms. Once we leave, we have no leverage at all. We’ll be a 3rd country attempting to negotiate a new trade agreement, which will require unanimous agreement of all the remaining EU members. Expect to hear about fishing rights, level playing fields, more about Irish borders, and probably even Gibraltar. There’s also a deadline we’ll be counting down to, because of course there is.

Brexit will not be done. It will finally have started, and even then nothing will change until the end of the “implementation period” however long that ends up being. If you’re already bored of Brexit, and who isn’t, the next few years are going to be even more annoying.

So who should you vote for? Obviously I can’t tell you that, but here are some thoughts about what the options are in Eastleigh. Things might be very different where you are.

If you still want to leave the EU, your choices are limited because the Brexit Party aren’t standing in Eastleigh. That leaves two options:

  • If you voted to leave the EU because you wanted to help the NHS, or if you wanted to leave the political union but keep close economic ties, then Labour are probably the best option. Labour is promising to negotiate a closer relationship with the EU but they are planning to give people the final say, so Brexit is not guaranteed. Unfortunately Labour is currently predicted to come third in Eastleigh and they are not supported by the Brexit supporting tactical voting sites.
  • If you want to leave the EU at any cost, then the Conservatives are probably the best option. Be warned though, Mr Johnson is probably lying to you. There’s a good chance he’ll extend the transition period and, with a big enough majority, he may end up negotiating a softer Brexit than he’s currently promising. He’s unlikely to cancel Brexit completely, but who knows for sure. Even so, they have been endorsed by the Brexit Party candidate who pulled out, and are the recommended party on Brexit supporting tactical voting sites.

If you want to remain in the EU, you have three choices in Eastleigh:

  • The most pro-EU parties are the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats. Both have campaigned to remain in the EU and support a final say referendum. (The Liberal Democrats have also said they would revoke article 50 if they win a majority.)
  • Labour will renegotiate with the EU and are offering a referendum on the result of that negotiation.

All the pro-Brexit sites support the Conservatives and all the pro-EU tactical voting sites support the Liberal Democrats in Eastleigh.

It’s probably worth mentioning that tactical voting is about picking a candidate with the best chance of achieving a particular outcome. It doesn’t mean they will win, or that you like that candidate, or that their party has any other policies you agree with.

In the case of this election, it’s essentially about choosing the least worst option for your desired Brexit outcome.

You might not agree that the chosen candidate does have the best chance of winning. You might even be right but that won’t matter unless you can convince all the, fiercely independent, tactical voting sites to agree with you. (There really isn’t time for that unless you have some very very convincing evidence!)

That just leaves the tricky bit. Do you vote tactically? It’s worth noting that Eastleigh isn’t high on the list of places that tactical voting is likely to change the result. Having said that, the previous Conservative MP, Mims Davies, left rather suddenly and not in the most transparent way possible. Her replacement hasn’t had long to establish any credibility, so it’s not a huge leap to think his vote share will be lower. There is a small chance that tactical voting could influence the result here, but it will be very very close if that does happen.

If you’re reluctant to vote tactically because of any of the manifestos, Brexit is likely to continue to fully occupy any government. Just look at how much of Theresa May’s domestic agenda survived.

If you dislike the election campaign of the pro-EU tactical candidate, you’re not alone. They’re all fucking awful. The Brexit Party managed to help the Conservatives but every opposition party seems to spend most of their energy attacking each other.

If you like a different candidate, or dislike the tactical candidate, thats unlikely to make any difference when they get to parliament. In Eastleigh, none of the candidates has been an MP before anyway, so there’s no way to tell how good, or bad, they’d be.

If you don’t want to vote for the party that invaded Iraq, or introduced tuition fees (also Labour), or supported the Conservatives in coalition, or whatever past failure sticks in your memory, then just imagine how much blame there will be to go around if we fail to stop a catastrophic Conservative Brexit.

If you worry that tactical voting hides how people really want to vote, you’re right, and it will until we get a fair voting system. This is not the election to try and prove a point about how bad first past the post is. Join the Labour party, and get them to support PR instead!

All in all, it’s a shit choice. Democracy should be better than this but it isn’t, and it’s likely to get significantly worse if the man who unlawfully shut down parliament wins the election.

* Not as hard to believe as anything the Conservative party claim obvs.

Decisions, decisions


I was caught unprepared by an actual parliamentary candidate knocking on the door this evening! Unfortunately I was about to bath the kraken so I didn’t have time to come up with any sensible questions. Still, it’s about time I took an interest in the election…

It’s not long since I last got to vote for an MP and, like last time, I’m undecided. Unfortunately there aren’t as many candidates to choose from this time, with the final list being:

  • Declan Clune (TUSC)
  • Patricia Culligan (UKIP)
  • Mims Davis (Conservative)
  • Ray Hall, Beer (Baccy and Scratchings)
  • Mark Latham (Labour)
  • Ron Meldrum (Green)
  • Mike Thornton (Lib Dem)

There’s more information about all the Eastleigh candidates on YourNextMP, which was handy for finding most of them on twitter. At some point I hope to get round to contacting all the candidates with a few questions and, if I do, I’ll post any responses in case it helps anyone else. The first source of inspiration I’ve spotted is the Open Rights Group general election party manifesto wiki.

Early impressions are:

Hopefully I’ll have more to go on by 7th May! If anyone has any thoughts, including any of the candidates, please leave a comment.

Eastleigh by-election: National Health Action


Unfortunately I only just discovered that outlook.com had decided this reply was junk- maybe it’s a little early for Microsoft to be launching it officially just yet! Ok, so the election was last week, where Iain got 392 votes, but I think it’s still worth posting for completeness.

> 1. What are your views on equal rights, for example do you support the introduction of gay marriage?

I’m not opposed to same sex marriage (covered in my earlier email)
[Q. What are you doing to support equal marriage? A. Nothing active. I think we need to maintain our focus on the economy and the threat of privatisation of the NHS at the moment. I’m not saying it’s not an important issue; but we have to prioritise things somehow. Personally I support equal marriage.]

> 2. I am very concerned about the introduction of secret courts as part of the Justice and Security Bill. Would you oppose the introduction of secret courts?

Yes – I too feel the very fact that this is being considered is very worrying in a supposedly free society.

> 3. In my view MPs have a poor track record on technology issues, for example the ill-considered Digital Economy Act, which my last MP was unwilling to discuss. What are your views on repeated attempts to introduce a snoopers charter?

As with 2 – this is an extremely regressive step and will simply escalate the fear and mistrust that threat to break up the essential cohesiveness that binds society together.

> 4. Do you agree that it would be easier to reduce dishonest and corrupt business practices if there was more transparency in company relationships and ownership? How would you tackle this issue? For example, would you back legislation to crack down on non-trading companies?

More transparency and accountability in everything. Commercial confidentiality clauses are one the things that cause markets in health care to fail at the expense of quality and safety in patient care.

> 5. Can you promise to fight to protect NHS services both nationally and at our local hospitals?

Yes – covered in my previous email.

[Q. Would you support new legislation to reverse the harm of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, and stopping the privatisation of the NHS services? A. Yes – absolutely. This is the primary aim of my election campaign. Q. Can you promise to fight to protect services at our local hospitals? A. Yes – I promise to protect services at local hospitals and community and mental health services. The only situation where I would support closure of local health services would be if the services concerned were no longer being run to adequate standards of safety or quality. But in such circumstances health commissioners would need to ensure that replacement services of satisfactory quality were available at a location or locations that are convenient and accessible for the whole population of Eastleigh borough.]

> 6. Would you support any changes to the current laws on abortion and, if so, what changes would you like to see introduced?

This is a very divisive issue, over which, if required to vote on in Parliament, I would consult closely with my constituents. Personally I don’t see any pressing need to change the current abortion law.

> 7. What role do you think an MP has in local issues? What will you be able to do to help resolve issues like planning that other locally elected representatives are not able to do?

I believe that, as an MP not subject to a party whip, I would be a more effective voice for local people on local issues.

> 8. What measures would you take to promote green technology and to prevent climate change?

Covered in my previous email.

[Sustainable development funding to be made available to ‘green’ businesses and projects.
Better access to bank loans for local, small businesses.
Promote active travel, especially encouraging safe cycling and walking.
Reduce the costs of public transport.
Promote policies where the general principle is ‘the polluter pays’. This will preserve individuals’ choices, but it will ensure that one person’s choice to live a high carbon lifestyle doesn’t restrict another person’s choice to live a more sustainable lifestyle. It will also avoid the situation where the costs of people’s unsustainable lifestyle choices are borne by the environment and thus paid for by future generations.]

> 9. Do you have a by-election manifesto where I could find out more about issues that are important to you?

No. The NHAP is a very new party (created Nov 2012), so we don’t have a detailed manifesto yet. Please see our website http://www.nationalhealthaction.org.uk/ for the general thrust of our existing policies.

> 10. Do you intend to stand in future Eastleigh parliamentary elections?

This is for the Executive Committee of NHAP to decide. I probably would if asked.

> Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Please let me know if you would prefer me not to publish your responses on my weblog.

I don’t mind you publishing my responses.

Hopefully Iain will be back again in 2015!

Eastleigh by-election: English Democrats


A late entry from the English Democrats in case anyone is still trying to decide. (Are the polls still open?!)

James Thank you for some sensible questions at last.

1. I am proposing that as the current bill was voted for with only 150 M.P.’s voting against it and as it declares that the Church of England and other Churches are exempt from performing gay marriages, this means that many of the Gay Lebian and Bisexual community think they can have a church wedding but no church other than the Quakers will allow it. I therefore suggest Government funding for Bishop Jonathan Blakes Open Episcopal Church to operate from various currently empty or derelict church buildings to specifically fill this need and bring peace to the whole debate.

2. My ex wife who I am recently divorced from is a Black Afro Caribbean High Court officer in the Childrens and Family Courts service. These are existing secret courts 10,00 British children are taken into care by the state in these secret courts . Extending the use of secret courts brings us closer to a Police State and I oppose it.

3. The internet should be free and remain so. It undermines the authorities which is why they want to do this under the pretence of British Homeland Security, only where there is a serious recognisable threat to national security should it be employed.

4. Yes and offshore bank accounts , I used to be an Independent Financial Adviser I left financial services in 1998 of my own free will to pursue a more honest living. I know where and how to root out tax dodges.

5. I had my first hospital stay in October having a titanium plate and screws keeping my right hand attached to the rest of me I am on record as saying I will fight against NHS privatisation.

6. Abortion I am concerned we may be killing our young and would support a reduction in the number of weeks allowed before abortion is allowed.

7. Planning and the localism bill make a mockery of protecting green field sites I would do whatever I can to protect green field spaces but it is really the local authorities decision not the M.P.’s .

8. Solar panels like the one on our Church as featured on my Facebook page Michael Walters English Democrat for Eastleigh, to be installed on all public buildings. I am anti Fraking and very concerned about the proposed Nuclear Waste Dump being proposed at Romney Marsh just up the coast.

9.See Facebook page.

10. Not likely James my job here is to promote my party so that someone more local and hopefully cleverer than me joins and stands instead how about you James ?

Publish way no probs.

Best Wishes

Mike Walters

So the final tally was seven replies, or half the candidates, which is far more than I was expecting in the time available.

Eastleigh by-election: Elvis Loves Pets


And finally, the Elvis Loves Pets party also replied! No-nonsense answers and another website to check out.

> 1. What are your views on equal rights, for example do you support the introduction of gay marriage?
We support gay marriage, anything to cut the birth rate
>
> 2. I am very concerned about the introduction of secret courts as part of the Justice and Security Bill. Would you oppose the introduction of secret courts?
Against secret courts
> 3. In my view MPs have a poor track record on technology issues, for example the ill-considered Digital Economy Act, which my last MP was unwilling to discuss. What are your views on repeated attempts to introduce a snoopers charter?
Against snoopers charter
> 4. Do you agree that it would be easier to reduce dishonest and corrupt business practices if there was more transparency in company relationships and ownership? How would you tackle this issue? For example, would you back legislation to crack down on non-trading companies?
> Pass
> 5. Can you promise to fight to protect NHS services both nationally and at our local hospitals?
> I Support the NHS
> 6. Would you support any changes to the current laws on abortion and, if so, what changes would you like to see introduced?
> No
> 7. What role do you think an MP has in local issues? What will you be able to do to help resolve issues like planning that other locally elected representatives are not able to do?
I will speak to the planning officer>
> 8. What measures would you take to promote green technology and to prevent climate change?
More solar panels on council house>
> 9. Do you have a by-election manifesto where I could find out more about issues that are important to you?
http://grumpyoldelvis.co.uk/eastleigh-manifesto-2013
> 10. Do you intend to stand in future Eastleigh parliamentary elections?
No>
> Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Please let me know if you would prefer me not to publish your responses on my weblog.
No problem in publishing

Looks like 2013 will be the only opportunity to vote for Elvis Loves Pets in Eastleigh!

Eastleigh by-election: UKIP


Fifth place went to UKIP with perhaps the most techno reply of all- in the future, candidates will be able to participate in virtual hustings, live from a cold doorstep using a tablet! And yet this is also the first reply not to include a website. How strange.

Hi James
Quick responses:
1. No
2. Yes
3. Do not support this charter
4.collaborate with fellow mps on this
5. Absolutely
6. Ism content with the law as it stands and would want more medical evidence to consider to review any personal change.
7. Yes ukip policy is to support local referenda and follow through
8. Require scientific evidence base on this before a direct answer
9. Yes this should have already reached you. We have leafleted every household. Let me know if yours has gone
10. Yes
No prob with your blog
Kind regards
Diane
Sent from my iPad

Don’t worry, the leaflets got through! It would be nice if evidence actually played a bigger role in politics but I am still puzzled how a single MP could actually follow through on a local planning referenda!

Eastleigh by-election: Conservative


In at number four was a reply from the Conservative candidate. Maybe I should finish with a post showing cardboard cut-outs for the candidates that don’t reply!

Dear James,

Thank you for writing to me with your questions. To be as clear as possible, I will respond to each individually.

1. I believe in equality before the law and supported the introduction of civil partnerships because I strongly believe gay couples should have the same legal rights as heterosexual couples. I would not, however, vote for the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill because, as a Christian, I believe marriage is between a man and a woman.

2. The current system does not provide fair justice because it in fact provides no justice in these cases. It urgently needs reform. It is vital that we get this tiny number of national security civil damages claims heard properly by a judge which they cannot be at the moment without releasing highly sensitive intelligence material into open court.If we do not do this the taxpayer will have to pay out millions of pounds to people who have not proved their case and may have terrorist connections. And we will never know whether there is truth in some of the serious allegations that have been brought alleging that the UK has been involved in mistreatment of detainees.

3. We should take every step that is necessary to keep the country safe. We shouldn’t put our civil liberties at risk by doing so, but where there are gaps that need to be plugged, we need to plug those gaps. I believe this legislation is vital to help catch paedophiles, terrorists and other serious criminals.

4. As a businesswoman with 31 years experience, I think it’s hugely important that business is transparent and free of corruption. I would carefully consider any legislation or regulation that would improve business practice.

5. I believe the NHS is our most precious national asset. That is why I am pleased that the Government is increasing investment in the health service to £12.5 billion over the next four years. I will fight locally and nationally to protect our NHS and hospitals.

6. I am pro-life, but I would note this is not an issue that is going to be revisited during this Parliament.

7. The role of a local MP is to be a strong local champion in Westminster for your constituency. I have spent the last five years campaigning with local residents and campaign groups to fight plans for inappropriate development in Eastleigh. The role of an MP in the planning system is to represent local peoples’ concerns and I believe a Conservative MP would provide a strong counterbalance to the Lib Dem Borough Council that is responsible for planning in Eastleigh.

8. I am pleased that the Conservatives are committed to being a green government, whilst also doing all we can to keep energy bills as low as possible. We have established the Green Investment Bank and published ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions, setting an example to other European countries.

9. Please visit my website for more information on my campaign and core values. (http://www.vote4maria.co.uk/)

10. I will worry about that after Thursday! All my focus at the moment is on the next two days. But I would say that I fought the General Election in 2010 in Eastleigh and here I am again! Although I was disappointed to lose in 2010, I continued to live and campaign in the area about the issues I care passionately about: protecting the countryside and standing up for disability rights.

I hope I have answered all of your questions and am very happy for you to publish my responses. My only request would be that they are published in full and not taken out of context.

Many thanks,

Maria

Another detailed reply, which is a good sign, and I am impressed that she stayed in the area after the last general election.

Eastleigh by-election: TUSC


Third up was a much more detailed reply from the TUSC. Plus another website. Maybe ballot papers should start including QR codes!

Answers as below James.
Best regards
Daz Procter
Council of executive
RMT

[Email and phone number]

Rise like Lions after slumber, In unvanquishable number, Shake your chains to earth like dew, Which in sleep had fallen on you, Ye are many — they are few!!

Dear Daz Procter – Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition,
I will be voting in the by-election tomorrow unfortunately I have not yet heard from all the candidates, and the candidates I have heard from have not addressed all the issues that are important to me. Please could you answer the following questions to help me decide who I should vote for:

1. What are your views on equal rights, for example do you support the introduction of gay marriage?
TUSC promotes diversity and believes that there are bigger issues that need opposing and people should be able to live as they are happy without fear.
2. I am very concerned about the introduction of secret courts as part of the Justice and Security Bill. Would you oppose the introduction of secret courts?
Most definitley we support justice not secrecy.
3. In my view MPs have a poor track record on technology issues, for example the ill-considered Digital Economy Act, which my last MP was unwilling to discuss. What are your views on repeated attempts to introduce a snoopers charter?
I think MP’s have a port track record on many issues with a disregard for the people that they represent at times. Standing as an MP does not mean that I have researched every single act, and I would rather be honest than do as other prospective politicians do which is try to twist the question. I have not researched the attempts of a snoopers charter but would guarantee that I would not dismiss any concerns of my prospective constituents and a full consultation would take place with those that I represent on any issues of concern.
4. Do you agree that it would be easier to reduce dishonest and corrupt business practices if there was more transparency in company relationships and ownership? How would you tackle this issue? For example, would you back legislation to crack down on non-trading companies?
Dishonesty and corruption is top of my list because how can local business compete when big business owes £120bn in taxes yet the local business must pay. I believe that honesty and transparency is the best policy and we need to promote this within business because any corrupt finding will only damage business whilst transparent professionalism will promote business.If we chased the money owed from tax evasion and avoidance from big business and the cuts where not being carried out this would also promote transparency with more people spending money and
5. Can you promise to fight to protect NHS services both nationally and at our local hospitals?
We oppose all cuts and find them unnecessary and would promote the growth of the NHS and other public services.
6. Would you support any changes to the current laws on abortion and, if so, what changes would you like to see introduced?
This is an issue I would have to investigate further, being a seafarer and a trade unionist it is not something that I have ever fully investigated so before committing to answer on this at this stage I would look into it in more detail and consult those I represent on their views fully before making committing fully rather than firing from the hip and changing my views at a later date.
7. What role do you think an MP has in local issues? What will you be able to do to help resolve issues like planning that other locally elected representatives are not able to do?
I believe in democracy, and local issues should be discussed by those it will effect and locally elected representatives. If this is not occurring then this indicates a breakdown in local politics, if a break down in local politics is occurring then the locals are being ill represented and would need to be investigated.I would insist in being involved and supporting locally elected representatives and remind them of their accountability to the local residents.
8. What measures would you take to promote green technology and to prevent climate change?
Invest in publicly owned, produced for need no for profit controlled renewable energy.
9. Do you have a by-election manifesto where I could find out more about issues that are important to you?
http://www.tusc.org.uk I am always happy to be contacted to discuss issues, it’s not what is important to me that counts its what is important to you, because as your representatives I will be raising your issues and that is what is important to me!Representing those involved in every day struggle due to being under constant attack as a consequence of political incompetence is my motive to stand.
10. Do you intend to stand in future Eastleigh parliamentary elections?
Yes, I believe the people of Eastleigh are now becoming aware of a political party that will actually represent them, doesn’t change answers to suit a specific audience and is in touch with reality and will not u turn on policies promised.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Please let me know if you would prefer me not to publish your responses on my weblog.
Thank you for the opportunity to answer, I am happy for my answers to be put on your blog.

Good to see a candidate considering questions rather than just giving answers that they think people want to hear. Also looks like the first candidate we can expect to hear from again in Eastleigh, which is nice.

Eastleigh by-election: The Peace Party


Second place went to The Peace Party, with a slightly more personal reply. They too have a website.

Dear James,

Thank you for the interesting questions you have put to Jim. In this election, there has been an unusually (but very pleasing) large number of questions asked of our candidate and it has proved impossible to answer each e-mail individually. As a result, we have created the first attached document incorporating the majority of the questions asked (inn bold) with Jim and his team’s responses. We hope that you will find at least most of the answers you were seeking there and it is possible you will find others in our Charter, downloadable from the Website http://www.peaceparty.org.uk (The second attachment is “Jim’s Mini-Manifesto” for the By-election.)

Please let us know if you would like to be kept in touch with the Peace Party after the election and perhaps help to form a local group.

Yours sincerely,John Morris

(Election Agent for Jim Duggan, The Peace Party – Non-violence, Justice, Environment)

P.S. Sorry, I’m afraid that some of the questions you pose are new and we have not had time to consider answers. I know from the Sunday Hustings that Jim would answer “Yes” to 1, “Yes” to 2 and probably “No” to 10 unless he is elected in which case he will move to the constituency.

Quite sensibly they had some prepared answers, but that was an attachment and  unfortunately doesn’t appear to be with their online FAQ yet.