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!

Undecided Eastleigh by-election voter


Thanks to 38 Degrees handy email the candidates page, I decided to to stop waiting for random leaflets to drop through the door. It’s certainly helped me narrow down the options- after all, if they don’t reply when they want something from me (my vote) what are the chances of getting a response when they’ve been elected.

I didn’t get quite the same response rate as the Hedge End Blogger but surprisingly, especially given the short notice, almost half of the candidates actually replied. The next few posts are from the candidates but first, here are the questions (in no particular order!)

From: James Taylor – Hedge End
To: Colin Bex – Wessex Regionalist, Danny Stupple – Independent, David Bishop – Elvis Loves Pets Party, Daz Procter – Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, Diane James – UKIP, Dr Iain Maclennan – National Health Action Party, Howling Laud Hope – Monster Raving Loony Party, Jim Duggan – Peace Party, John O’Farrell – Labour, Kevin Milburn – Christian Party, Maria Hutchings – Conservatives, Michael Walters – English Democrats, Mike Thornton – Liberal Democrats, Ray Hall – Beer, Baccy and Crumpet Party

Subject: Undecided Eastleigh by-election voter

Message:

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?

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?

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?

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?

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

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

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?

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

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

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

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.

Good luck tomorrow.

Thank you to all the candidates who replied– you’ve made it through to the final round of voting tomorrow!

If anyone else is still having trouble deciding, there is also a 38 Degrees by-election hustings video.

Leaflet watch


Election day is fast approaching and the leaflets are stacking up. We’ve had more election leaflets than takeaway menus through the door lately!

byelection-leaflets

I don’t know about anyone else but none of the leaflets are actually helping me decide who to vote for. All the favourite NIMBY issues are covered, lots of helpful comments about who can win, who would ‘get in’ if you wasted your vote, where people live, what terrible deeds the other party has committed, and so on. They do waste a tiny bit of space on their own policies, but practically none on anything as boring as evidence.

To be fair, all the leaflets are a complete waste of paper, but somehow the Lib Dem leaflets always manage to wind me up the most. Perhaps it’s because they really don’t just appear at election time- they annoy me all year long! That and their habit of being ever so slightly economical with the truth. After years of campaigning on protecting green fields the most high profile exposure has been green field gate gate. Shortly afterwards we got a leaflet with three ‘facts’ about the Boorley Green development- perhaps it would have been better to be up-front about the complexities of local planning. A step in the right direction but they seem to be suggesting that it’s a choice between the golf course and all the other countryside that’s helpfully coloured in green. Let’s see how that map looks in 50 years.

Amazingly they’ve moved on from protecting the countryside. (The last leaflet didn’t mention it once!) Unfortunately the new topics are about what the Conservatives are doing, not about what the Lib Dems are promising to do. So negative as well as misleading.

Apparently the county council has been wasting money on new offices. No mention of the Lib Dem’s own office move but it’s the £12,000 price tag for 6 taps that really stands out. It would be nice if they explained how you can spend that much on taps, except that might make them appear even more petty.

And finally, my personal favourite is how the county council is ‘wasting’ money on streaming meetings. Now you could quibble about the exact cost (I expect you get what you pay for to some extent) but it seems to me like they’re actually saying it’s not worth spending money on improving transparency and democracy. Given the track record of the town council, I can understand that. It would have been great to see what happened in Botley recently as well, but that wasn’t available online either. Sadly, democracy costs money. I wonder how much money the by-election is costing. Remind me why we actually need a by-election?

Photo © Richard Jacks

Another uninspiring election


Looking for Beer, Baccy and Crumpet party? Thanks to Ray for pointing out that their manifesto is now online!

Despite having twice the number of candidates, I think I may have been a tad optimistic to think that this election would be any more interesting than usual.

Being 2013 unable to adapt, almost all the parties are effectively engaging with voters using a variety of social media tools pushing tons of leaflets through doors. So far I have one letter and one leaflet from UKIP, three leaflets from the Conservatives, five leaflets from the Lib Dems …and nothing from the other candidates. The other candidates shouldn’t be too concerned though since:

  • I don’t want a free booklet about how many people will move here from Romania and Bulgaria
  • Everyone seems to be fighting to save our green fields
  • The Lib Dem leaflets are as infuriating as ever (that rant will have to wait for a future blog post!)

I have actually found a few of the candidates amongst the people talking about the election on twitter. It wouldn’t be a huge loss if they weren’t though- not exactly much substance, more:

  • where they’re canvassing (need to do a uksnow style map for this in time for the next general election!)
  • what the weather is like
  • how great their support is
  • how busy their HQ is
  • who’s interviewing them

In just two missed opportunities:

  • John O’Farrell revealed that he spoke about local issues to Ed Milliband, just not what those issues were
  • Maria Hutchings is against building on green fields in Botley/Boorley green but less willing to engage in discussions about where the houses might go instead (I actually thought Maria’s twitter stream was reasonably good before the election- maybe she’s too busy knocking on doors to tweet now)

As for everyone else on twitter, today seems to have been mainly:

But what about the other candidates? There are plenty of them but finding out about them is not quite so easy. Maybe if I lived in the centre of Eastleigh, I’d know more. Luckily, Eastleigh News has some articles, including one for the Beer, Baccy and & Crumpet Party, and The Independent has a brief introduction to some of the lesser known candidates. Even better, Matthew Myatt has managed to record a few interviews with the candidates, including Howling Laud Hope.

All of which makes for a pretty miserable choice. So far Laud Hope is most likely to get my vote! If I get time, I’m planning to try out the 38degrees email the candidates form to actually try and extract some useful information to base my vote on. In the mean time, if you are a candidate, please feel free to leave a message below!

Update: most people seem to find this post while looking for the Beer, Baccy and Crumpet manifesto so added link to their manifesto! (22 February 2013)

Anyone can win here!


Well it turns out you can resign from the House of Commons, so if I was crazy enough to stand in the by-election I wouldn’t have to break any manifesto promises! (Even when it comes to resigning those weasily MPs have to bend the rules ever so slightly to get round the slight inconvenience of not actually being allowed to resign, which I guess isn’t a huge shock.)

The Eastleigh by-election should at least be a little more interesting than the last general election and, finally, I’ll get the chance to vote Monster Raving Loony! If there don’t turn out to be any better alternatives that is- at least it’s marginally less pointless than spoiling a ballet paper for a change.

I was wondering how the local Lib Dems might adapt their irritating campaign tactics for the by-election. The result won’t make any difference to which party is in government, and that’s already a coalition of the only two parties who can win in Eastleigh. Well, it appears that old habits die hard. I do hope they’re wrong; it would be so nice to have a change!

So far it looks like we can expect a massive seven candidates to stand but I’d still like to see more independents. There’s not long left to get nominations in but if anyone needs help with signatures, please get in touch!

Apathy


I’m finding it very difficult to get any enthusiasm for the election. Every day there’s another campaign leaflet to add to the pile…

…often more than one, but they just aren’t helping. (Two more arrived as soon as I took that photo!)

Going by the number of leaflets, you would think that the Lib Dems are the most keen for my vote with around 18 so far. Sadly most of them just put me off voting Lib Dem, and I’m still waiting for a reply to my letter to Chris Huhne.

If I was voting based on quality of campaign leaflet content, the Conservatives would be ahead by a nose. Only five from them but on the whole they are much more positive and go in to more detail. Entertainingly, their major negative streak is about the dire consequences of a hung parliament, which includes a claim that financial experts predict a fall in house prices. Excellent, a hung parliament is sounding better than ever, sign me up for some of that!

Labour have managed to deliver a grand total of zero leaflets. Well, saves me the effort of moving them from the letter box to the recycling bin. Have enough to fill that up already.

UKIP and the National Liberal Party (that name just reminds me of a scene from the Life of Brian!) are tied on one leaflet each. Plus we also got a random leaflet campaigning against a hung parliament. I had been planning to add leaflets to TheStraightChoice.org but with my new found apathy I haven’t got very far. I did add one scanned by a colleague after he got a leaflet from the only independent candidate standing in Eastleigh.

Perhaps all the campaign posters are supposed to get me more excited about voting. They tell me a huge amount about what the parties stand for don’t they? Still, there is some entertainment from the, ‘who moved my sign’ squabbles. I had thought that the Lib Dems were going to win the prize for most signs, with the Conservatives taking gold for largest surface area, but after the Lib Dem banner appeared on the M27, there’s still everything to play for. (I’d love to know what the local council would have to say if residents stuck up random signs the rest of the year. Perhaps we could all declare our favourite supermarkets to find out!)

All of this old style electioneering should be consigned to the history books by now with the dawn of the digital age. Elections 2.0 should enable candidates to really engage with voters. Early signs were promising, with four of my candidates having twitter accounts: @ChrisHuhne, @MariaHutchings, @LeoBarraclough and @raymondfinch. Sadly I wouldn’t recommend following any of them. Broadcast media seems to be more their cup of tea. (There is one local candidate who deserves an honourable mention for his Election 2.0 posters, not that I can vote for him unfortunately.)

In the past I have always been very keen that everyone should vote, but given the quality of the choices available I’m coming round to the idea that not voting may actually be the best option. (I do like the Nobody poster!) Some lucky people even get to vote for no candidate. In the end though, even if I don’t vote, I’ll be doing it in person; it’s not actually apathy, it’s lack of choice.

Is blindly sticking a cross on a bit of paper once every few years just an illusion of democracy? What do you think the chances of any real change are after Thursday? Whatever happens, the politicians are going to win.

Update: a couple of links that might help when deciding who to vote for: (5 May 2010)

  • Hedge End People have a General Election group and some of the candidates have responded to questions on local issues.
  • Unlikely to help the apathy, but this article has an interesting graphic view of where the parties stand, and how the three main parties have shifted over recent years.

Manifesto


For the last few local elections I’ve had no one to vote for. It’s not long until the general election and I’d really rather not have to spoil my ballot paper again, which could be a problem…

Lib Dems

The local Lib Dems are keen to point out that they don’t just appear at election time, which is true. Unfortunately the result is that their newsletters just tend to annoy me a lot more often. The latest front page is all about their opposition to building houses on greenfield land. Now I’m not all that keen on the idea of that either if there are alternatives, but planning seems to be a problem on the brownfield Wildern Mill site as well. (Still resisting the urge to have a real rant about local planning in general, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time!) There’s also a reminder of previous campaigns, including the fight to stop a gravel pit. The good news is that Eastleigh does have excellent recycling collections for all the newsletters.

I might be more tempted to vote for the Lib Dems on national issues, except they keep reminding me that there isn’t any point.

Conservative

Seem to keep a fairly low profile locally. Either that or they just don’t think I’m likely to vote for them. They often seem to be campaigning for the same things as the Lib Dems. For example, Maria Hutchings’ out of date looking web site also features the fight to protect green spaces and over development.

The Conservatives biggest plus point nationally is that they aren’t Labour, and they could win the next election.

Labour

They appear on the ballot paper but I have no idea what they think about local issues. Nationally, they seem to have put the unelected evil Lord Mandelson in charge, so there’s no chance I’ll be voting for them. If Mandelson keeps coming back, he’s not getting the message.

RON

There was UKIP as well last time but otherwise we don’t seem to get much more choice in Eastleigh. Not even an option to reopen nominations to give the candidates/parties pause for thought. So who can I vote for. One idea bubbling away in the back of my mind for a while is that I could vote for myself- I’d just need to get on the ballot paper.

That was all before the Digital Economy Bill, which was beginning to look like it would go through without any real opposition. What can you do when none of the parties support your views? The Digital Economy Bill might still sneak through without the scrutiny it requires, handily under the cover of an election campaign so, while I would rather not stand in the election, I haven’t ruled it out completely. Scarily, I’ve already been offered the £500 deposit and a nomination! My manifesto would be simple: to stand down at the earliest opportunity. So a vote for me would be a vote for RON. Yes, a single issue candidate, but one who it’s safe to vote for. Does anyone want to join the RON party? A good way to register frustration with politicians and draw attention to the Digital Economy Bill, or a waste of time and money?

Update: Eastleigh News have a handy guide to my competition. I wonder if anyone else is thinking of standing.

Update: It’s now too late to register a new party, which is a shame- I was thinking that “For The Win” would look good on the ballot paper! There is still time left to stand for election, but after much consideration I don’t think there is really enough time to go for it this election. If I did stand, I would want to do it justice and put in some serious work, otherwise it would basically be an expensive way to spoil my ballot paper! I would need to think about my current job, properly research the mechanics of submitting nominations and the rules that govern candidates. I would also need to check that I could actually deliver on my manifesto pledge and stand down immediately in the unlikely event I won! (I just assumed that would be possible, but while chatting to my campaign team someone pointed out that it might not be possible, so definitely worth finding out. I wouldn’t want to be one of those parties that make all sorts of promises which they don’t keep!) Then there would be the small matter of attempting to get at least 5% of the vote!! Still, depending on how bad the next batch of MPs are, you might see a few “For The Win” candidates in the next election! Just leave a comment if you would like to be one of them! (13 April 2010)