Anti-Tory collaboration

Follow me @Linda Derrick1

Facebook Linda Derrick for Ridgeway East

18 March 2021

The following letter was published in the Guardian today:-

“There is no mystery about why the Tories are riding high, despite all their failures. In the Bernwood ward of Buckinghamshire Council, where the Tories are said to have held power for over a century, three Tories are opposed to three Labour, three Green and three Lib Dem candidates. Until the anti-Tory forces in England can collaborate – perhaps by each standing in one third of areas- the Tories will always win. Roderick Floud, Haddenham, Buckinghamshire.”

I don’t know Roderick Floud but I think he is absolutely right.

To make it worse, many of the non-Tory candidates in these wards are only “paper” candidates i.e. they are simply there to make up the numbers.

“Paper” candidates often live outside the ward, rarely have been active in the community where they are standing and are not expected to do any campaigning. All they have to do is allow their name to go forward on the nomination papers (hence the term).

As Mr Floud says, the only winners in Bucks in perpetuating the system are the Tories.

I make no secret of the fact that I am unlikely to win in Ridgeway East. However, I and other non-Tory candidates will stand virtually no chance in Ridgeway East if there are more than three non-Tory candidates.

So I think the opposition parties have to ask themselves why they are putting up paper candidates?

Is this really the best way to beat the Tories in wards like Haddenham and Ridgeway East?

And we're off on the local election campaign trail – or maybe not

Follow me @Linda Derrick1

7 February 2021

The Government has announced that the local elections will definitely be held on 6 May 2021 – unless it changes its mind that is.

I'm going to stand as an independent candidate for Ridgeway East (see my manifesto on my front page).

Under the Government guidance, candidates and their supporters are not allowed to knock on doors and canvass nor put leaflets through letter boxes. We can’t hold meetings or talk to people on the street. We can only canvas online, by telephone or by leaflets sent by post or other commercial delivery services. We can’t even drive through the ward with a megaphone.

Hmmm……

As an independent candidate, I could spend a lot of money producing leaflets and paying for a commercial organisation to deliver them. I could also spend a lot of money buying advertising on social media (if I knew how to do it). I am sure that is what the major political parties will do, particularly the Conservatives who seem to have lots of money from its wealthy donors.

However, I’m not entirely convinced at this point that the Government won’t change its mind. It has a world beating record for U-turns.

So not only do independent candidates, like me, face major expenses, but they also risk it being all for nothing if the elections are deferred.

Hmmm….

Moreover, candidates who have been councillors before should already be well known to their constituents. Because they have been helping and representing their constituents for years – haven’t they? Or at least they should have been.

So first-time independent candidates like me start with a much lower profile with the electorate. And we will find it difficult to close the gap if we can’t get out and contact voters.

Hmmm…..

But nothing daunted, I have put a poster on our gate (see below). I have metaphorically pinned my colours to the mast.

It’s a small start - but it’s a start. It’s a very small sign of opposition in East Ridgeway, a ward dominated by Conservatives.

But it’s the only opposition about.

Conservative voters should be careful what they wish for

Follow me@LindaDerrick1

16 December 2019

Well, now we know that the majority of voters in Bucks want a Prime Minister who repeatedly lies, a hard Brexit and 5 more years of poverty and misery to millions of people, including 1 in 4 of our children.  54% voted Conservative across the five Bucks constituencies.  

Only in Wycombe did the majority of voters buck the trend; Steve Baker got only 45% of the vote and Labour, on 38%, could have won if Lib Dems voters had got behind the Labour candidate.

Elsewhere the Conservative would have won even if all the opposition votes went to the second place candidate – Lib Dems in Buckingham and Chesham, Labour in Aylesbury and an independent in Beaconsfield.

Enough people have commented on the results. I have nothing to add except to wish the residents of Bucks good luck, particularly if you are old, ill, poor or disabled.

Tactical voting in Bucks to oust the Conservatives

Follow me@LindaDerrick1

3 December 2019

There are two very good reasons for voting to keep the Conservative Government out of power.

One is to stop the UK leaving the EU with a very bad deal at the end of January - and then facing the prospect next December of no trade deal with the EU or any major trading country.

The other reason is to reverse the impact of nine years of austerity which has caused poverty and misery to millions of people in the UK.

So how do voters do that in Bucks?

There are five constituencies in Bucks – Beaconsfield, Chesham and Amersham, Wycombe, Aylesbury and Buckingham.

All have been held for many years by Conservatives with large majorities. Up to now the five Conservative MPs have spanned the right wing political spectrum, from extreme right to moderate. But now every Conservative candidate, according to Boris Johnson, has pledged to back his Brexit deal. There are no Conservative candidates in Bucks prepared to vote for remain or a second referendum or a different deal.

Is there any hope of ousting a Conservative if voters vote tactically in Bucks?

The answer is yes if you vote Labour in Wycombe and Independent in Beaconsfield (i.e. Dominic Grieve). There is a remote possibility of ousting the Conservatives if you vote Labour in Buckingham and pretty well no chance in Aylesbury and Chesham and Amersham (Labour is the main opposition in these two constituencies if you want to have a go).

Here’s the thinking.

In Beaconsfield, Dominic Grieve has been the Conservative MP since 1997 and won in 2017 with 65% of the vote. He is now running as an Independent. Last time out he got 37,000 votes, Labour got 12,000 and Lib Dems 4000. The Lib Dems are standing aside for Dominic Grieve.

Some moderate/Remain Conservative and some Lib Dem voters may change and vote Labour. But my betting is that the majority of those who don’t like what the Conservatives are doing will vote for Dominic Grieve.

If he carries 50% of the Conservative vote with him plus the Lib Dem vote, he will win easily (23,000 to 19,000 over his Conservative rival). If he carries 30% of the Conservative vote with him plus the Lib Dem vote he will lose (19,000 to 26,000 to his Conservative rival).

The Labour vote is unlikely to get anywhere near these numbers.

So if you want to vote tactically, and this includes Labour voters, in Beaconsfield, you will vote for Dominic Grieve.

In Chesham and Amersham, Cheryl Gillan has been MP since 1992 and she is running again. She has always had more than 50% of the vote and over 60% last time. Labour came second then but if you added all the votes from all of the other parties, you still won’t have anywhere near enough votes to oust the Conservatives. If you want to vote tactically, then vote Labour – but it’s hardly worth it. You might as well vote with your convictions.

In Wycombe, on the other hand, there is a real chance that tactical voting might oust Steve Baker, who has been the Conservative MP since 2010.

At the last election there was a massive swing to the Labour Party of over 15% leaving a gap of about 6,500 votes between him and the Labour vote. Steve Baker is one of the most extreme right wing Conservative politicians (see blog of 4 May 2017 below). He would welcome a no-deal Brexit while representing a constituency that marginally voted Remain. He wants to privatise Wycombe hospital.

If some moderate Conservatives and the Lib Dems voted Labour (with the votes of young new voters), then it is possible that tactical voting could oust Steve Baker.

Aylesbury is a bit of an unknown as David Lidington, the MP for the past 27 years, has stood down. However, it’s hard to see that tactical voting would have any effect in Aylesbury where the Conservatives had a majority of over 14,000 against Labour.

The new Conservative candidate is Rob Butler who seems to have been parachuted in from outside Bucks. Which is all a bit odd because with so many active Conservative Councillors you would have thought one of them would have been selected.

Finally, in Buckingham, it is anyone’s guess. John Bercow, has stood down as MP after 27 years. He is replaced by Greg Smith, a keen Boris Johnson supporter.

The last time the seat was contested by the major parties was in 2005 (because John Bercow was Speaker and traditionally the Speaker is unopposed at elections). In 2005, Labour and the Lib Dems were level pegging on about 20% of the vote each, so it might be worth voting tactically.

The most recent county and district elections for Buckingham suggest that Labour is now the main opposition party. So if you want to vote tactically, vote Labour in Buckingham.

If you don’t want another 5 years of Conservative cuts, lies and misery with Boris Johnson, you now know what to do.

PS I still think Jeremy Corbyn would make an excellent Prime Minister (see my blog right at the bottom of this page of 8 May 2017!)

Totteridge and Bowerdean – a remarkable achievement turned to dust

Follow me@LindaDerrick1

8 February 2019

There was a by- election yesterday for the county council ward of Totteridge and Bowerdean. The ward is in central Wycombe.

I thought this election would be interesting. The county seat was previously held by a member of the East Wycombe Independent Party; the two district seats for Totteridge are held by a Conservative and a member of the East Wycombe Independent Party; and the two district seats for the Bowerdean ward are held by two members of the Labour Party.

Well the election did turn out to be interesting, not least because two days before the election the Labour Party suspended its candidate from the Labour Party. And at 7am on the day of the election the police arrested a man in the ward for election bribery.

At this time we do not know why Israr Rachid, the Labour candidate, was suspended nor do we know who was arrested for election bribery.

But let’s first look at the results, according to Bucks County Council’s website:-

                                                         2019 share of vote     2017 share of vote    change

Labour*                                                41%                             25%                             +16%

East Wycombe Independent            28%                             40%                              -12%

Lib Dem                                                21%                             15%                             + 6%

Conservative                                       10%                              20%                             -10 %

Turnout was good for a by-election at 30%.

This is a massive swing to Labour. This is also a good result for the Lib Dems. But it is a disappointing result for the East Wycombe Independent Party and a disaster for the Conservatives.

*The Labour candidate is now an Independent councillor because of his suspension from the Labour Party.

Now let’s look at the interesting complications.

As far as the arrest for bribery is concerned, we do not know if the police will charge the man, how many votes the alleged bribery involved, nor which candidate the alleged bribery might have benefitted.

What we can guess is that it has something to do with postal voting. It is very difficult to bribe someone if they vote at the polling station!

So we will have to put this to one side for the moment.

As far as the suspension is concerned, most people voting by post would have done so before polling day and anyone voting for Israr Rashid would have done so believing he would be a Labour councillor if he won.

The ballot papers on polling day apparently still said Israr Rashid was the Labour Party candidate. So most people voting for him on polling day would have done in the mistaken belief that he was the Labour candidate.

Only if voters had read about the suspension on-line on the website of the Bucks Free Press or heard about it by word of mouth would voters have known he had been suspended.

So a lot of voters are going to feel cheated and misled.

Other candidates will be feeling aggrieved having campaigned, unsuccessfully, against someone who now turns out to be suspended for reasons they are not allowed to know or talk about.

There must also be considerable ill-feeling by Labour Party supporters who campaigned for Israr Rashid, putting leaflets in doors and canvassing in the middle of winter only to find that their efforts are all in vain – he may be a councillor but he is not a Labour councillor.

A remarkable achievement turned to dust.

So where does that leave us?

First, I would congratulate Wycombe Labour Party on taking the brave step of suspending their candidate at such a politically sensitive time. The Party could have waited a few days until after the election and hoped that whatever it is that has caused the suspension would pass relatively unnoticed when the election was over. But the Party didn’t. Well done.

However, I would also ask why the Labour Party selected and ran with the candidate until so late in the day. If it was sufficiently serious to suspend their candidate two days before the election, surely someone in the Labour Party knew that something was going on much earlier?

Would the Labour Party have won by a larger margin if it were not for the suspension? Or did so few people know about the suspension that it made no difference to the result? Or perhaps most voters knew about the suspension and voted for Israr Rashid regardless? We will never know.

Will any of the other candidates make a complaint?

How long will it take to resolve whatever it is Israr Rashid was suspended for? During that time, is it possible for him to carry out his responsibilities as a councillor? Will he resign?

If he does, how will voters know it won’t all happen again? How will they know Labour candidates won’t have their colours removed just before the finishing post?

Didn’t the Lib Dems do well in Aylesbury again? Is this the beginning of a trend?

Follow me@LindaDerrick1

30 November 2018

Last Thursday there was a by-election for Bucks County Council in the Aylesbury NW ward. The Lib Dems held the seat and here are the results.

                                                 2018 share of vote         2017 share of vote        change

Lib Dem Focus Team                     39%                             30%                              + 9%

Conservative                                   30%                              25%                              +5%

Labour                                              26%                              23%                              +3%

Green Party                                     5%                                   3%                              +2%

UKIP                                                  no candidate              20%                              -20%

 

The changes in the share of the vote are similar to the changes we saw in a by-election in Aylesbury Vale in March this year (see blog of 24 March 2018 below).

As in March, there was no UKIP candidate this time round. All the parties appeared, on the face of it, to benefit from picking up previous UKIP voters.

The largest beneficiary appeared, once again, to be the Lib Dems – up 9%. However, as in March, I don’t think many ex-UKIP voters moved their votes to the Lib Dems. I think most ex-UKIP voters moved their votes to the Conservatives and many Conservatives moved their votes to the Lib Dems.

As in March, Labour benefited the least from the absence of a UKIP candidate.

The turnout, as normal for a by-election, was low – just 18%.

Even so, I wonder if this is the start of a trend with a shift towards the Lib Dems. Is this the way it’s going to go in the future?

Bucks Labour – can it be afraid of me?

Follow me@LindaDerrick1

7 October 2018

It’s my normal practice to send a link to anyone I mention in my blogs. If I get a response, I normally blog the response; it seems only fair.

For example my last blog set out the response I had from Councillor Langley and WDC’s housing team about my concerns on Universal Credit. It was a substantive, helpful – and even friendly – response which addressed my concerns (see blog of 4 October on my housing page).  

A week ago, I blogged about three speeches given by Bucks Labour members to the Labour Party Conference (see blog of 30 September below). I sent the link to:

- Alexa Collins, Vice Chairman of Beaconsfield Constituency Labour Party (CLP);

- Phillip Jacques, Chairman of Aylesbury CLP; and

- Neelo Monteith, Chairman of Wycombe CLP.

Alexa Collins had made one of the speeches I commented on.

I asked Phillip Jacques to forward the link to Liz Hinds, a member of Aylesbury CLP s who made the second of the speeches I commented on; I didn’t have her e-mail address.

I asked Neelo Monteith to forward the link to Mansoor Ayub, a member of Wycombe CLP who made the third speech I had commented on; I didn’t have his e-mail address either.

I also left Mrs Monteith with questions about Wycombe CLP’s policy on Palestine. This was the subject of Mr Ayub’s speech.

 

An hour later I got an e-mail from Brian Gammage. He is the Treasurer of Chesham and Amersham CLP and I believe the Secretary of Bucks County Labour Party. He also sent his e-mail to Alexa Collins, Neelo Monteith and Mike Butcher, who is the Vice Chairman of Aylesbury CLP.

I rather suspect Mr Gammage sent his e-mail to me in error. Here it is:

“Sun 30/09/2018, 15:53

You; Alexa Collins; Neelo Monteith; Mike Butcher

Ignore - she will never let it lie and always has to have the last word.

Any response is just another log on her fire.

The best thing to do with her emails - delete before reading. Starve her of the oxygen she craves.

Brian”

I have had no other response. I’m going to let Mr Gammage have the last word. Says it all really.

3 speeches by Bucks Labour delegates to Conference – 1 excellent, 1 misguided and 1 misleading

Follow me@LindaDerrick1

30 September 2018

With the exception of Buckingham Labour Party, I still have no idea, perhaps months before a snap general election, about the policies and priorities of the Labour Party in Bucks.  

Well done Buckingham for making it clear you oppose the closure of your local community hospital but, for the rest, there’s nothing on their websites or their Facebooks.

So I thought I would try a different tack; I would see what Labour delegates from Bucks said at the Labour Party Conference last week.

First up is Alexa Collins from Beaconsfield Constituency Labour Party.  She called on the Labour Party to commit to ending selective secondary education and provide local, equal and excellent education for all children.   It is on BBC iplayer at the link below at 53 minutes in.   

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0bljbwx/labour-party-conference-2018-24092018-recorded-afternoon-session

I think it an excellent speech and I’m delighted that Beaconsfield CLP are calling for the end of selective secondary education in Bucks publicly and loudly.

Second is Mansoor Ayub from Wycombe Labour Party.  He called for an end to the injustices which the Palestinian people suffer, injustices which he said were begun by the British Empire; a British colonial army which suppressed an entire people.  This legacy of British colonialism destroyed communities around the world.  He added that colonialism was still a daily experience for black and ethnic minority groups in this country; colonialism marginalised, discriminated and silenced people here.  He said there was a need for education of British history.  We should stand with the brave Palestine people.

A video of his speech is below. 

I think Mansoor Ayub is expressing a view held by a lot of young people in Wycombe from a British Pakistani background.  It takes courage to address an audience of thousands and he spoke with conviction.  So I thought I should think carefully about what he said.  

I decided to pay Mansoor the courtesy of taking his views seriously and provide honest feedback bearing in mind I come from a very different background (and am somewhat older). 

I think his views are misguided and need challenging.

First I completely agree that the sufferings of the Palestinians are profound; this is a humanitarian disaster.  Second I think the actions of the Israeli state towards Palestinians are wrong – so too is the legislation it has passed to make all but Jews in Israel second class citizens.

Third, at its height the British Empire covered a quarter of the world’s population.  Its legacy – legal, linguistic, political, economic and cultural - is wide-ranging.  You can debate how much of that is good or bad. 

However, it is incorrect to say the injustices the Palestinian people suffer began with the British Empire.   Britain administered the land now called Palestine from just after the first war to just after the second – a period of 30 years.  Before that Palestine was ruled by the Ottoman Empire which at the time was notable for its barbarity and genocide.

The fact is that this area of land in the Middle East has been subjected to strife and war, much of it religious, for thousands of years.  It sits at the crossroads of some major trade routes; whoever controlled the area gained power, influence and wealth.

Its history is long and complicated and it is simplistic and wrong to suggest the British Empire began the suffering of the Palestine people.

It is worth remembering that the Jews have also suffered persecution across the world, including genocide during the second world war.

It is also makes no sense to me to suggest colonialism is still the cause here of discrimination, marginalization and silencing.  What does this daily experience of colonialism look like?   Where does it come from?  What on earth does this mean?   

Perhaps I could leave some questions for Wycombe Labour Party:

-        Are Mansoor Ayub’s views the official line of Wycombe Labour Party or his personal views?

 

-        My family, which has been white, English and working class since whenever, has been ruled by the British Empire for its entirety (1583 – 1997 according to Wikipedia).  It hasn’t suffered major disasters as far as I know but how did my family and those like it fare under 400 years of British Empire rule?

 

-        Is Palestine a priority for Wycombe Labour? If so, why  is it a priority when there are humanitarian disasters elsewhere in the world, including in lands previously ruled by the British Empire such as the Republic of Yemen and Myanmar?   Is it anything to do with the fact that this is a conflict between Jewish and Muslim peoples?

 

-        If minority ethnic groups are still discriminated, marginalized and silenced by colonialism, why it that all six of Wycombe’s district Councillors are men from ethnic minority groups, five of them British Pakistanis?  Why is Wycombe Labour’s only county councillor, and its parliamentary candidate, British Pakistani men?  Why has Wycombe Labour been dominated by British Pakistani men (until very recently)?     

 

Third up is Liz Hinds from Aylesbury Labour Party.  She said Aylesbury Labour Party would continue to fight the Tories.  It had fought the closure of Children’s Centres and was making headway and getting local support.  Her speech is at

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tahgP1mECU&feature=youtu.be

Oh dear – where do I start?   Perhaps I could merely remind Aylesbury Labour Party that last year it refused to oppose the closure of Children’s Centres – it decided it would merely “express its concern”.   Don’t take my word for it – their letter to Bucks County Council is at http://www.aylesburylabour.org.uk/campaign_against_closure_of

 Aylesbury Labour Party did virtually nothing to support the people who really took the lead in opposing the closures, most of whom like Alka Dass belong to no political party as far as I am aware.    The campaign had cross party support but Aylesbury Labour were conspicuous by its absence.

If Aylesbury Labour really wants to fight the closures, I look forward to seeing them pull out the stops in future.  BCC is consulting again with the public on the closures.  I look forward to Aylesbury Labour’s response.

 

 

Vote for Maxine Myatt for the council by-election in Quainton

1 May 2018

Follow me @LindaDerrick1

On Thursday a lot of people will be going to the polls to vote for councillors in the Metropolitan areas of England.  But did you know there is also a council by-election in the ward of Quainton in Aylesbury?  No?  Well it’s not surprising really.    

Let’s look first at what happened at the last election in Quainton in May 2015.   There were only 3 candidates – a Conservative, a UKIP candidate and an Independent.  

The Conservative candidate won with a vote of 55%, the Independent came second on 23% and UKIP third on 22%.  Turnout was a remarkable 76%.

So what’s happening this time?    There are four candidates:-  

Deborah Lovatt, Green Party

Maxine Myatt, Labour

Scott Raven, Lib Dems

Steven Walker, Conservative

 

So the election should be quite interesting with no UKIP candidate this time and all the other opposition parties fielding candidates unlike last time.  So I thought I would see what sort of campaigns the parties were running and what issues they were highlighting. 

First stop was the Buckingham Conservatives website and Facebook.  Absolutely nothing about the by-election and no mention of the candidate. 

Then to the Buckingham Labour website and Facebook.   Same thing there – nothing about the local by-election and no mention of the candidate. 

Third to the Lib Dem website.  And at last here is an article about their candidate.  And there’s lots of Facebook posts about their candidate out canvassing.

Finally, the Green Party.  And I’m afraid I couldn't find a website at all. 

Now it may be that if I lived in Quainton ward, I would be bombarded by leaflets from the four candidates and by canvassers knocking on the door.  There may be articles in the local papers or debates on the local radio that I don’t see or hear.  

However, I wonder how residents find out about the candidates if they miss out on a leaflet or a knock on the door?  And what issues are the candidates concerned about?

Well this is my simple take from a quick look via the internet:

Steve Walker – lives just out of the ward at Waddeson where he is Chairman of the Parish Council.  Was an IT consultant.    Political interests, who knows, but keen on clearing the roads of snow in a mini snow plough.

Maxine Myatt – lives in the ward at Oving.  Was senior manager in the probation service and her family farm produces Dexter beef.  Political interests social, including immigration, criminal justice, and young people. 

Scott Raven – lives in North Marsden and works part-time in local pub.  Stood as an Independent against John Bercow in the general election last year.  Political interests, who knows, apart from potholes. 

Deborah Lovatt – stood in 2017 county election last year.  Political interests, who knows, but presumably environmental.   

I don’t know any of the candidates but, for what it is worth, I would vote for Maxine Myatt simply because she seems to understand the problems of vulnerable people and is concerned for their welfare.    And that is what I think councillors in Bucks need more than anything else at the moment. 

We will see what happens in Quainton (and the rest of the country) on Thursday. 

 

Results from by-elections in Bucks

24 March 2018

Follow me @LindaDerrick1

Two by-elections took place on Thursday for wards in Aylesbury Vale.

I resigned from the Labour Party in January after four months of bullying and harassment by the Executive of Aylesbury Labour Party.  So I found it sad that I couldn’t support the Labour candidates, both of whom are members of the Executive.

However, I didn’t want the Conservative candidates to win either as I think the Conservative policies are appalling, causing distress and misery to thousands of people in Bucks.   

So I suppose I was pleased when the Lib Dems won, although I’ve still not worked out what they stand for (except on Brexit where I am right behind them).   

The Lib Dems won handsomely, with their share of the vote up by 18%.

There was no UKIP candidate and their candidate last year had 17% of the vote.  So, on the face of it, the Lib Dems benefitted from the absence of a UKIP candidate. 

However, I don’t believe the UKIP vote went to the Lib Dems; it makes no sense for voters who previously supported UKIP and Brexit to vote now for the Lib Dems, a party wholeheartedly in favour of staying in the EU.  

So my best guess is that these ex-UKIP voters are now voting Conservative.  After all, who needs UKIP when the Conservative Government is determined to negotiate a hard Brexit.  

Which must mean a large number of Conservative voters moved to the Lib Dems.   

I suspect this is a protest vote against the effects of the cuts which are starting to emerge.   (Which is odd really as the Lib Dems were joint architects of austerity; Nick Clegg and David Cameron both pushed through the measures which are now hitting the poor and vulnerable in Bucks.)

Meanwhile, there were two other elections, this time in the Chilterns.    The results here are less clear as all the elections for this ward have been won overwhelmingly by an independent since at least 2003.  The Labour Party didn’t even put up a candidate in 2015.   So it is impossible to make comparisons with past performance.

So what, if anything, can you conclude against the current results of by-elections in the South East?

First, as elsewhere, there was a swing against the Conservatives.  This was in line with results elsewhere and to be expected; a swing against the ruling party is normal for by-elections.  However, to be in line with results elsewhere, the swing should have favoured the opposition party most likely to win; voters seem to be deciding where their “protest” vote would have most effect.   

So I think both Labour and Lib Dems have done well in the Chiltern wards as these are part of a rock- solid Conservative Council.   Of the 40 Councillors, only two are not Conservatives and these are Lib Dems.  

I think the Labour candidate here has done particularly well, getting to second place and with a good share of the vote, because the seemingly obvious choice for a protest vote would have been the Lib Dems.  

On the other hand, in Aylesbury, voters should have turned to the Labour Party.  But it is clear they turned to the Lib Dems instead.  

I hope the Aylesbury Constituency Labour Party – and the Labour Party more widely – reflects on the reasons for this. 

 

Fact or fantasy in the Central and Walton by-election?

17 March 2018

The letter below has been sent to the Bucks Herald.  I hope it is self-explanatory. 

I don’t know whether the Bucks Herald will publish the letter next Wednesday.  However, I thought as many people as possible should know as soon as possible that some of the facts about myself and my colleague, Carmel, included in a long letter published by the Bucks Herald on 14 March are inaccurate.   

The letter was written by Liz Hind, a member of the Executive of Aylesbury Labour and the Labour candidate for the Town Council in a current by-election for Central and Walton.    

At best, Liz Hind has failed to do her homework.  At worse, the Executive of Aylesbury Labour has allowed her to send a letter to the press which they know to be inaccurate.  The Chairman of the Executive is Phillip Jacques, the Labour candidate for the district council for Central and Walton.    

Dear Editor 

We wanted to say how much we appreciated the sympathetic letter from Allison Harrison, Chairman of the Lib Dems, thanking us for our work after we resigned from the Labour Party.  We won't be joining the Lib Dems but we felt comforted by the warmth of her support.

We also wanted to correct what Liz Hind said in her letter.   She said there is "no on-going investigation of the local Labour Party.  That's fantasy.  The complaints from Linda Derrick and Carmel Traynor have been investigated at all levels of the Labour Party and the local party has nothing to answer for." 

Here are the facts.  One of us (Carmel) made a complaint of bullying and harassment on 12 January 2018 against the Chairman and Vice- Chairman of the Executive of Aylesbury CLP.  Carmel's complaint has not been investigated, indeed it has not even been acknowledged by anyone in the Labour Party.  

The other of us (Linda) made a formal complaint of bullying and harassment on 14 February 2018 against the Executive of Aylesbury Labour.  Her complaint, as she said in the article, is being investigated by the Legal and Governance Unit of the national Labour Party.

As Carmel was a member of the Labour Party when she made her complaint, she informed the Executive the same day as a matter of courtesy.  So Liz Hind, who was a member of the Executive at this time, ought to know about this complaint.   She has presumably cleared her letter with the other 17 members of the Executive.   We can only say they must be suffering from collective amnesia. 

Linda has copied her complaint and all of the subsequent correspondence widely including to all members, both Labour and Conservative, of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Women and Equality and to national and local media, including the Bucks Herald.  As she was no longer a member of the Labour Party, she felt it was a matter for the investigating officer to inform Labour Party members about her complaint.  However, Liz Hind and other members of the Executive could have checked the position easily.    

Both of us are happy to provide documentary proof that what we are saying is factually accurate.  

It concerns us enormously that a candidate for an election has written a letter which is so factually inaccurate.  It concerns us enormously that a candidate can say that what we were saying was a fantasy.   We understand that all such publicity material during an election has to be authorised by the candidate's agent and we will be referring the matter to Aylesbury Vale DC.     

Yours 

Carmel Traynor

Linda Derrick 

PS We have already written to Aylesbury Vale DC.   They have told us that there is no need to have an agent for Town Council elections and that the candidate is therefore responsible for the conduct of the election herself.   They have decided not to refer the matter to the police but have suggested alternatives which we are considering.

 Follow me @LindaDerrick1

It's difficult for women in politics

7 March 2018 

Last week, the Bucks Herald ran an article about the resignation of myself and a colleague, Carmel, from the Labour Party.    We resigned because of 4 months of bullying and harassment by the Executive of Aylesbury Labour (see my blogs under my Women's page). 

I also said in the article that “I am astonished that Aylesbury CLP had selected two members of the Executive, including the Chairman, to be candidates in the local by-elections, particularly while my complaint of bullying and harassment was being considered.  I do not think either are fit to be Councillors.”

The by-elections are for the town and district vacancies for Central and Walton.  The Labour candidates are Phillip Jacques and Liz Hind. 

The Bucks Herald published a letter this week from Allison Harrison, the Chair of the Aylesbury Lib Dems.   A shortened version of her letter is below.

It was really good to see the public support from the Lib Dems for the sort of issues we were raising.  It was also really kind to be thanked for our work in the community. 

However, the purpose of our resignation was to make Aylesbury  Labour reflect on its behaviour and to make it easier for women to take senior roles at every level in the Labour Party.   

So it would have been even better to have seen some public recognition from Aylesbury Labour Party that it understands the issues and that it needs to change.

Letter from Allison Harrison

“It's difficult for women in politics.

The obligation we feel towards our family and children often makes it hard to commit time to improving society.   However as I sit here and write this letter I can see that it is precisely that which makes women important in the political arena – we want fairness, equality and compassion because that creates social cohesion and a better society for all. 

I was genuinely shocked and saddened to hear about how badly Carmel and Linda have been treated by the Labour Party in Bucks…………

It seems to me that the current version of Labour, with its ideological roots firmly back in the 1970s , sees its job is to represent working class men over all other members of society.

Carmel and Linda are great activists.  I’ve seen Carmel many times on the campaign trail.  And it was she that joined me to sleep rough in Aylesbury when I was Mayor in order to draw attention to the fact that the Conservative Administration at the District Council wasn’t doing enough to help the homeless. 

It’s such a shame that some people in the Labour Party locally don’t seem to support those values……….

I’d like to personally thank Carmel and Linda for the efforts they have put as women to try to improve our local society.

Whatever Labour may say, they have shone a spotlight on what really happens inside that party and it saddens me that this behaviour towards women still occurs in 2018.

As a society we should be actively encouraging all people to get involved in politics, particularly so women.“

 

Voters in Southcourt and Riverside just couldn’t be bothered

20 August 2017

Well, there were some odd results in the Southcourt and Riverside by-elections.   

First it is clear that the UKIP vote collapsed in both districts.  The Labour vote, on the other hand, remained the same. 

In Southcourt, it looks as though just over half the ex-UKIP voters went to the Lib Dems and just under half to the Conservatives, putting the Lib Dems in first place and the Conservatives in second.  

In Riverside, again, it is difficult to calculate but it looks as though more than half the ex- UKIP vote went to the Lib Dems to bring them from fourth to second place and less than half to the Conservatives which nevertheless brought them to first place. 

These of course are overall numbers; beneath the surface the flows would be more complex.   However, this major shift from UKIP to Lib Dem is odd, not reflected in the national or county elections.  So perhaps something local has happened we just don’t know about.

The second thing which stands out is the low turnout of 27% in Southcourt and the dismal turnout of 13% in Riverside.    That’s disappointing for the Labour Party because a low turnout traditionally helps the Conservatives.   But it’s disappointing for everyone. 

In fact – and I know you aren’t meant to berate the electorate – I think it is really pathetic. 

Thousands of men and women lobbied and campaigned to get everyone the right to vote in this country.  They protested, demonstrated and rioted.  They went on hunger strike, were put in prison and were shot.   

Millions of people in the world walk miles to vote and queue for hours often in extreme conditions. 

Millions of people still haven’t got the right to vote and are protesting and rioting – and getting killed. 

And yet only a small proportion of voters in Southcourt and Riverside could be bothered to exercise their right and walk 10 minutes to a voting station.  (I won’t even mention the fact that all many voters had to do was walk across the road and put their postal vote through a letter box as I would restrict postal votes to those that actually need them). 

Don’t tell me that all political parties are the same – they aren’t.  Or that all politicians are liars – they aren’t.  Or that politics has got nothing to do with the lives of most people – politics decide where children go to school and what sort of education they get, politics decide where we live and if we can pay the mortgage or the rent, politics decide the terms and conditions of our work, and politics decide the quality of our social and healthcare.

As I say, it is simply pathetic that so few people voted.

There I feel better now.

 

 

 

Didn’t we do well in Bucks

 10 June 2017

 Yes – I know we didn’t win but we really did do well.  In fact we did extraordinarily well.  There is something happening out there – even in Bucks.

 I’ve put the facts in some tables below, free to all political parties to ponder as well as providing cheer to the Labour Party in Bucks.   Let me know if I have got any of the figures wrong.

First there has been a massive swing to the Labour Party across Bucks – Labour’s share of the vote rose by 15% in Wycombe and Aylesbury, 10% in Beaconsfield and 8 % in Chesham and Amersham.   It’s an average of 12% across Bucks. 

 Second, the Lib Dem vote stood up well and has even increased by 4% of the vote in Chesham and Amersham - but remember it collapsed in 2015.   UKIP’s share of the vote has collapsed this time round and so has the share of the vote by the Green Party. 

Third, the Conservative share of the vote has held up and even increased (except in Wycombe).

 The outcome of these shifts is that the Conservative’s majority has been cut in all 4 constituencies and, in line with the national pattern, elections in Bucks look set to be 2 horse contests.  The Labour Party is now the main opposition party in all 4 Bucks constituencies.   

 It is anyone’s guess as to how the voters moved between parties but here’s my best guess of the main net flows for Aylesbury – just to get you thinking.     

 

To Labour                                                                                                       thousands

Voters eligible to vote but did not do so before                                             1.6 

                                                                                                                                                                                                   

New 18 year olds and new net arrival to Aylesbury mainly from London     1.2

From the Green Party                                                                                     0.9

From Lib Dems                                                                                                0.2

From UKIP                                                                                                       5.3

Total                                                                                                               9.2

 

To Conservatives                                                                                           thousands

New voters                                                                                                      0.5

From UKIP                                                                                                       3.7

Total                                                                                                               4.2

 

 

Turnout          2015                                        2017

Wycombe       67.4%  (51459)                        69.6% (53637)                Up 2.2% (2198)

 Aylesbury       69% (55419)                               71% (58743)                   Up 2% (3324)

Beaconsfield   71.1% (53163)                            72.3% (56028)                Up 1.2% (2865)

 Chesham         72.7% (52731)                            77.1%((55352)               Up 4.4% (2621)

 

 % share of the vote 2017

                                     Lab                  Con                 Lib                   UKIP    Green

 Wycombe                   37.7                 50                    7.8                   2.3                   2.2

 Aylesbury                   30                    55                    9.6                   2.2                   2.1

Beaconsfield               21.4                 65.3                 7.9                   2.9                   2.5

 Chesham                     20.6                 60.7                 13                    2.8                   3

  

% change 2015-2017

                                     Lab                  Con                 Lib                   UKIP    Green

 Wycombe                   15.2                 -1.4                  -1.1                  -7.8                  -3.8

 Aylesbury                   14.8                 4.3                   -1                     -17.5                -1.7

 Beaconsfield               10                    2                      0.6                   -10.9                -1.7

Chesham                     7.9                   1.6                   4                      -10.9                -2.5

  

Con Majority              2015                                        2017               

Wycombe                   14856                                     6578               

 Aylesbury                   17158 (to UKIP)                       14696

 Beaconsfield               26,311                                     24543

 Chesham                     23920  (to UKIP)                     22140

  

Voted in EU referendum*                             Con candidate

 Wycombe                   In         (52%)                                                   Strongly out

 Aylesbury                   Out   (50.5%)                                       In then Out

Beaconsfield              Out  (50.7%)                                        Strongly In

 Amersham                  In (55%)                                                           Out

*Results by district not constituency.

 

Don’t be a Bucks lemming

7 June 2017

What can I say about events in Bucks at the end of an extraordinary general election campaign?    What can I say about rock-solid Conservative Bucks where residents will continue to vote Conservative even if it means jumping off a cliff like lemmings.    

We will have the same five Conservative MPs that have served us so poorly for the past seven years.

I can understand that many of the residents think they and their families will continue to do OK with a Conservative Government. 

However, perhaps I could mention that even prosperous residents will feel the effects of the Conservative’s continuing cuts to public services – cuts for example to the NHS, education, libraries, and road maintenance.  Even prosperous residents are threatened by the cuts to the police.   Prosperous residents are going to be hit – and hard – by the Conservative proposals for social care in the home to be paid from the sale of residents’ homes after they die. 

And even prosperous residents are going to feel the impact of Brexit if we do not continue to get access to the single market.   The economy is not looking good at the moment (the UK is now at the bottom of the G7 league table on a par with Italy) and it is going to flounder if we don’t get a good deal on access to the single market.  How many residents commuting to London to work in the financial sector are going to see their jobs disappear?

So all I would say are two things.  First, this election is about more than self-interest.  It is about the sort of society we want to live in.   George Monbiot says it better than I can so here is his article

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/06/vote-jeremy-corbyn-labour-leader-policies

Second, I think Bucks is missing out on something quite extraordinary which is going on in the rest of the country.

If you read the Daily Mail, the Express or the Telegraph (as most residents out in the villages do), you may not know about it.  If you watch BBC for their news or listen to local radio, you won’t know about it.  

You see I took my 4 year-old granddaughter to hear Jeremy Corbyn speak at Watford last week.   The invitations went out 24 hours in advance.  Thousands turned up. 

The same week thousands turned up to hear Jeremy Corbyn at Leeds.  Ten thousand people turned out in the pouring rain in Gateshead this week to hear him and last night he addressed thousands of people at a rally in Birmingham which was live streamed to five events in Barry, Warrington, Brighton, Glasgow and London.   Did the BBC tell you this?

I don’t know whether this support will be translated into votes but there is another country out there. 

I have suggested it before but I will say it again.  Give up on the BCC – watch Channel 4 News instead.  

Listen to “Liar Liar”, no 4 in the top 40, but the BBC refused to play it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxN1STgQXW8

Read blogs on the “The Canary” blogsite and you will be much better informed.  You will see all of the Conservative cock –ups the BBC won’t show. https://www.thecanary.co/section/uk/

And don't be a Bucks lemming. 

 

I’m still asking “Who is David Lidington?”

Still don't know

 5 June 2017

 I received a leaflet from David Lidington in the post on Friday.   At last, I thought, I can find out what he stands for and what he has achieved in the last 25 years as my MP.  So far, the Daily Express and I had failed to find the answers to these questions (see blog below on “Who is David Lidington?”) 

I was a bit taken aback to find that the outside of the leaflet - half the space - was taken up by photos of Teresa May with that slogan (you know the one) plastered all over the place.  

Hmm I thought.  If Teresa May wants to tell me what she thinks, she can always do that on the TV and radio (assuming she turns up of course); the local leaflet is the only way I get to find out about David Lidington and she is taking up half the space.    

I then looked inside the leaflet only to find half the remaining space was taken up by a message from Teresa May telling me to vote for her local candidate.  Not the Conservative local candidate I noted but her local candidate.   

I was also asked to give her a strong negotiating hand so she can deliver in Brussels.   Not giving the Conservatives a strong negotiating hand but her personally.  Nothing about her Brexit team of Boris, Liam and David Davies. 

Then a few insults about Jeremy Corbyn but nothing about his Brexit team of Kier Starmer, Emily Thornberry and Barry Gardiner. 

Nothing to tell me what her Brexit plan is (she refers me to her Lancaster House speech, her letter to the EU and her White Paper). 

I’m told the only way to back her is to vote for her local candidate.  

I think you might be getting the point.  The election in Aylesbury, according to Teresa May, is nothing to do with David Lidington; I have to vote for David Lidington in order to give Teresa May a blank cheque on Brexit.

Finally I turned to the remaining bit about David Lidington himself.  And I am still none the wiser about his beliefs and priorities. 

His past achievements apparently amount to helping hundreds of people at his constituency surgeries every year and visiting parts of his constituency.  Is that it? 

He wants more homes, improvements in compensation and mitigation for HS2 and the “right outcome” for the RAF Halton site.   Oh and he has got to know local schools and colleges as a parent. 

I have no idea where David Lidington stands on schools funding, on selective education, on the crisis in the NHS, social housing, social care, policing, Brexit, immigration, employment, the environment, the economy – or even what sort of outcome for RAF Halton is “right”.

David Lidington has been my MP for 25 years and I still don’t know who he is.

 

A bright future with Brexit and HS2 is on the right lines – according to Cheryl Gillan

17 May 2017

This is my fourth, and final, blog on Conservative MPs in Bucks now standing for re- election. 

 

Cheryl Gillan is the Conservative candidate for Amersham and Chesham having been its MP since 1992.   You would think it would be easy to find out what she stands for and what she has achieved in that time. 

But not a bit of it.

Like other Conservative candidates in Bucks (except Dominic Grieve) there is not even an election message to voters on her website.  The only policy issue mentioned is HS2 but only to tell voters how the Bill will go through Parliament.  

You are left to guess what she thinks about HS2 and indeed about anything else.

This really is complacency gone mad.

I turned to Wikipedia – much more informative.   

In 2010, Mrs Gillan described the planned route of HS2 as an "outrage".  She said HS2 would be "a lot more than just the blight on the properties nearby... the implications for the area will be absolutely phenomenal". It would "threaten the quality of our lives – not just now but for generations to come" and stated that she "would defy the party whip – be very, very sure of that".

On 12 January 2012, Justine Greening, the Secretary of State for Transport, confirmed that HS2 would go ahead.  She said it was her understanding that "the Welsh Secretary [Cheryl Gillan] is already on side... I thoroughly agree with her that we have ended up with the right line, with the right mitigation".    

Mrs Gillan confirmed this agreement in the Bucks Free Press saying "We've already got some changes, good changes and I'm looking at what further possibilities there will be".   She added "I am not resigning. The speculation on my resignation has always come from the press and my political opponents... I'm exceedingly loyal to my party and my Government and I will remain so".  

Cheryl Gillan was sacked as the Welsh Secretary in September 2012 by David Cameron and since then she has voted against HS2.

Am I being too cynical to suggest that Mrs Gillan voted with the Government, to the detriment of her constituents, because she wanted to remain a member of the Cabinet – but started thinking about her constituents again when she got sacked?

Oh, and three days after the announcement of HS2 going ahead, it was discovered that Mrs Gillan had sold her house – which was less than a mile from the proposed route – in November 2011 "because she and her husband John have mobility problems".   She now lives in Epsom, 30 miles away from her constituency. 

Wikipedia also says Cheryl Gillan was criticised in both the Telegraph and the Bucks Free Press in 2009 for her expenses claims. The Telegraph revealed she had claimed for dog food on her second home allowance.  She described the claim as a "mistake" and said she would repay it.  She also claimed £305.50 to cure "noise problems" with her boiler and attempted to claim more money for her gas bill than charged; the Commons Fees Office refused to pay the full amount.

The Bucks Free Press also revealed she had claimed £8,450 for food and £4,335 for cleaning and employed her husband, aged 82, as an 'Office Manager/Researcher'.  Cheryl Gillan wrote to the Bucks Free Press to complain that "insinuating language" had been used.

Mrs Gillan also claimed £1,884 more than her mortgage payment.  The mortgage was on a second home in Battersea, despite the fact that at the time she had a home in her constituency.  She was ordered to repay the money.

Mrs Gillan has voted as you would expect of a Conservative:  

   -       for the bedroom tax, for cuts to benefits, for more restrictive legislation on trade union activity, and for reducing central government funding to local authorities, and 

-          against gay rights, against the hunting ban, against marriage between two people of the same sex, against the promotion of equality and human rights, and against increasing the tax paid for incomes over £150,000.

As for Brexit, I had to read the Spectator to find out she was in favour of leaving the EU before the referendum took place.  Now she says Brexit is “an opportunity for Britain to freely extend its reach to the rest of the world: forging new friendships; building new alliances; and expanding into new markets…. I think there’s a bright future ahead of us. There’s a whole world out there, and I want to see a free, open, tolerant and self-determining Britain thrive in it.”

 

Steve Baker - just simply one of the most extreme right-wing politicians.

4 May 2017

This is my third blog on Conservative MPs in Bucks now standing for re- election. 

Steve Baker is a relative newcomer, having been elected for Wycombe in 2010.    He is moderate in his language with none of the UKIP racist rhetoric about immigration.  But don’t be misled. He is an extreme right-wing politician.   

It's a long blog but voters need to know what he believes in and his record.

Mr Baker campaigned for the UK to leave the EU and was a leading member of the Vote Leave campaign.  Indeed Mr Baker said the main reason he stood for Parliament was to get the UK to leave the EU.  (He also promised not to stand again for Parliament if the referendum came down in favour of leaving the EU – but astonishingly he’s changed his mind.)

The Sunday Observer published an article today alleging that Vote Leave (and Leave.EU, the other main Brexit campaign group) received undeclared data collection services and “psychological operations” worth perhaps millions of pounds during the referendum campaign.  These services were, it is alleged, funded by a US billionaire called Robert Mercer who also bankrolled Donald Trump.  The Information Commissioner’s Office and the Electoral Commission are investigating but are said to be finding it difficult as “the evidence is offshore”.

The Sunday Observer says “Leaked emails published in February last year appeared to reveal a plan to break spending laws by creating different campaigns and covertly coordinating them.  Steve Baker, Conservative MP for Wycombe, wrote to colleagues: ‘It is open to the Vote Leave family to create separate legal entities each of which could spend £700k: Vote Leave will be able to spend as much money as is necessary to win the referendum.’ ”

However, having got the result he wanted, it is now rather difficult to find out what sort of future Mr Baker envisages for the UK after it leaves the EU and how this will be achieved.  

Unlike Dominic Grieve’s website there is no message to voters.  In fact there is only a brief mention of the general election and most of the material on his website seems out of date. 

There’s a lot of rhetoric about standing “on the threshold of a significant moment for Britain” and about making Britain “stronger and fairer” and becoming “more global and outward looking in action and spirit”. 

Mr Baker also tells us what the future should not be like i.e. there should be no half measures on leaving the EU – “nothing that leaves us half in and half out” and the UK should not have a “model already enjoyed by other countries” nor are we to “or hold onto bits of membership as we leave”.   

The only hint of what he thinks the future will look like is “a new and equal partnership – between an independent, self-governing, Global Britain and our friends and allies in the EU”.

Nothing about access to the EU markets, immigration, the rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU, the divorce bill, the Irish border - or the sovereignty of Parliament in deciding what deal the UK will seek in leaving the EU. 

It’s almost like now he has got the referendum result he asked for, he doesn’t know what to do with it.  Does he actually understand the problems now facing the UK?  Or does he not care?

 

Mr Baker’s second preoccupation is with something he calls “honest money”.  He is the co-founder of an organisation called the Cobden Centre whose vision, it says, is based on honest money and the free market.   

Mr Baker says he wanted an explanation of why so many entrepreneurs and investors had been misled during the 2008 financial crash.  And he found the explanation in the “monetary theory of the trade cycle”.

I  have had a go at reading some of these economic explanations but found them incomprehensible.  I still have no idea what “honest money” is and I would recommend Mr Baker (and anyone else) reads instead “23 Things they don’t tell you about Capitalism” by Ha-Joon Chang.   Thing 1 – There is no such thing as a free market - is a lot more understandable, and a lot more fun.

Free markets depend on the consumer demanding services which are then delivered by the private sector.  As I understand it, it can work if the private sector can make a profit out of delivering the service (which is tricky for things like social care and prisons).  It can also work as long as customers have the money to buy the services they need (which many don’t).   For the critical services we all need, free markets are good for the rich, bad for the poor. 

 

Mr Baker’s final interest lies with Wycombe hospital because he knows Wycombe voters want their A&E back. 

Mr Baker has said for some years that he sees no prospect of bringing an emergency medical centre (or A&E) back to Wycombe.  Instead he advocated the “mutualisation” of the hospital.   (He never defined “mutualisation”).

Hinchingbroke hospital in Cambridgeshire was “mutualised” in 2012 when Circle Holdings, a private sector company, won a contract to run the whole hospital.  In 2015, it said the contract was not viable and terminated the contract.  The NHS had to come in and take over again.   Mr Baker stopped using the word “mutualised”.

Then Mr Baker commissioned a report, at taxpayers’ expense, from a company called Durrow.  He says it calls for “a new kind of casualty unit which could deliver 24/7 gold-standard emergency care in Wycombe for a clear majority of patients. It is an innovative yet realistic proposal which the NHS could deliver within current resources”. 

What Steve Baker doesn’t mention is that the Durrow plan proposes a self-financing project completely managed and funded from private capital with the NHS having “occupancy and buy-out rights”.  

Nor did Steve Baker mention that the managing partner of Durrow and one of its main advisers had a history in the healthcare sector likely to cause concern to residents of Wycombe. 

Now Steve Baker proposes to help deliver an Urgent Treatment Centre “aligned with the heart and stroke units” (see blog below).  And it is reasonable to ask whether this is just another attempt to privatise Wycombe hospital.

 

Mr Baker has voted for equal gay rights, marriage between two people of the same sex, higher taxes on banks, and against HS2.  Apart from these, he has voted consistently, as you might expect of an extreme right-wing Conservative, for cutting taxes for the rich and cutting benefits for the vulnerable.

 

Dominic Grieve – a gold star for Brexit and human rights. But what about day-to-day concerns?

 

12 May 2017

 

This is the second blog on Conservative MPs in Bucks now standing for re- election.  Dominic Grieve has been the Tory MP for Beaconsfield since 1997. 

He is clear where he stands on a number of issues – civil liberties, human rights, security and the unity of the UK - because his election message to his constituents on his website sets this out. 

He is for example an advocate for the European Convention on Human Rights.  Indeed he was sacked by David Cameron in 2014 from the post of Attorney General because of this advocacy.   

 

Dominic Grieve is also clear and consistent about the EU.   He campaigned to stay in the EU, accepts the outcome of the referendum and now concludes “that I find it impossible to participate in the euphoria shared by those, including some of my parliamentary colleagues, who either supported Brexit, or not having done so have now put an optimistic gloss on our future outside the EU, in deference to the wishes of the electorate expressed in the referendum.”

So Dominic Grieve is very prepared to express his views in opposition to the Tory Government and his colleagues.   It’s a good job he is not standing for Wycombe where the Chairman of the Conservative Association is urging Conservatives to “purge our party and deselect the Remainers”.

 

Mr Grieve’s speech on Brexit last November (on his website) is, to my mind, thoughtful, knowledgeable and sound.   He understands the difficulties ahead for the UK.

On the other hand, Mr. Grieve says nothing about healthcare, housing, education, wages or any other of the day-to-day matters that affect us all.  

Just nothing.

He is also curiously vitriolic about Jeremy Corbyn, saying Jeremy Corbyn’s “approach, as far as he has set one out, combines extreme left wing ideology with economic, defence and security policies which are as dangerous as they are incoherent. 

 

Jeremy Corbyn’s approach is of course very different from the extreme- right wing Tory ideology of letting the free market rip.   

 

However, I won’t put Jeremy Corbyn’s approach on the extreme left.  I have a working class, trade union background and to me Jeremy Corbyn is firmly in the mainstream of British politics.

 

I looked up Dominic Grieve’s record of voting to see if there was anything which would indicate a more liberal stance than his Government’s. 

 

Well sometimes he voted for equal gay rights (but not always), he voted for marriage between people of the same sex, he sometimes voted to encourage occupational pensions, and he sometimes voted for higher taxes for banks.  That’s about it.  Otherwise he seems to have voted for every Conservative measure to make life miserable for vulnerable people.

And amazingly he generally voted against laws to promote equality and human rights.  Most odd in view of his keenness to promote human rights.

 

For once I agree with the Daily Express - “Who is David Lidington?

10 May 2017

We have four Tories standing for re-election in Bucks – David Lidington, Dominic Grieve, Steve Baker and Cheryl Gillan.  They have all been MPs since at least 2010.

 

Let’s find out what they believe and what they have achieved over these 7 years, starting with David Lidington, my constituency MP in Aylesbury for 25 years.

 

I’ve never meet David Lidington but have written to him twice – once as a constituent about the hate preaching in the Wycombe mosques (see blogs under “Community”) and once about the crisis in the NHS (see blog below).  He didn’t respond. 

 

Nor is his official website informative.   

 

It does say that David Lidington took part in a campaign, fighting “hard within government to present the case against HS2” and for mitigation of the impact of HS2.   But then, it would have been astonishing if he had lobbied for HS2 and against mitigation. 

 

The only other campaign listed was “David welcomes investment from the Local Enterprise Partnership”.  Hardly a campaign.  

 

There was a note on the website to say readers could use the search engine for more information.  So I keyed in NHS.   Up came a reference to dental services in Stokenchurch and Radnage.  With all due respect to Stokenchurch and Radnage, this didn’t get me any further in understanding David Lidington’s views on the NHS.  

 

I thought I would find more from the section “What David has done previously in Westminster” but all this provides is a link to Hansard.  If you want to know about the business of the Commons or Parliamentary points of order, great.  Otherwise, don’t bother. 

 

Here’s the oddity.  David Lidington’s official website doesn’t tell you what his political beliefs are nor his political achievements. I can find out what he did at Cambridge (a doctorate in Elizabethan history and a win at University Challenge) but nothing about his views on, for example, the NHS, housing, education, the economy, taxes, the environment, or Brexit.   

 

So I turned to Mr. Lidington’s voting record.  Here’s some of the things he voted for:

-          A reduction in  benefits to the disabled and other vulnerable people

-          A reduction in Government funding to local government

-          The Iraqi war

-          The bedroom tax

-          More restrictions on trade union activity

-          Selling England’s state owned forests

-          Badger culling

-          Triggering exit from the EU, without any qualifications or restrictions on the Government.

 

And here’s what he voted against:

-          Taxing bankers’ bonuses

-          Encouraging occupational pensions

-          Equal gay rights

-          The fox hunting ban

-          Equality and human rights

-          The right to remain for EU citizens living in the UK

-          Spending public money guaranteeing jobs for young people who have been unemployed for a long time.

 

Mr. Lidington has never voted on HS2 (and he didn’t mention that on his website).

 

Then I turned to the press to see what Mr Lidington has been doing.  

 

Before the referendum, when Mr Lidington was the Europe Minister, he said a British exit from the EU would be a massive risk.  He added “everything we take for granted about access to the single market would be in question” and “it could take Britain up to ten years to negotiate new trade deals with Europe after an exit”.

 

By December 2016, Mr. Lidington was calling any MP who voted against triggering Brexit “profoundly undemocratic”.   And presumably, as a member of the Government, he not only agrees we should leave the EU but should go for a hard Brexit, losing access to the single market.   

He changed his views there then – but no mention on his website.

 

Finally I looked in the Bucks Herald.  In March this year, Mr. Lidington recounted his experience of the terror attack on Parliament.  Oh and in 2013 he welcomed the new royal baby.   Not much to go on there about his political views.

 

In December last year, when the PM was in Bahrain and Mr. Lidington took Prime Minister’s Questions, the Express, Sky News and the Mirror all asked the same question “Who is David Lidington?”   Despite his long Ministerial experience and 25 years as an MP, he was still a virtual unknown.   

 

The Mirror also volunteered the information that Mr Lidington had claimed £1,300 on expenses for dry cleaning in May 2009.   Mr. Lidington also claimed for toothpaste, shower gel, body spray and vitamin supplements on his second home allowance. He repaid the claims for the toiletries, saying: “I accept that many people would see them as over-generous."

 

So we all want to know who David Lidington is.  We all want to know where he stands on the issues facing the electorate.   We should know this already – he has after all been our MP for 25 years.   But no, he’s just not telling.

 

Perhaps the easiest way of finding out what David Lidington believes, is to ask the Prime Minister of the day.  Whatever he or she thinks seems to be OK with Mr. Lidington.   Mrs. May obviously doesn’t like anyone disagreeing with her.  So Mr. Lidington should do well if he and the Government are re-elected.