A personal View on the 2017 General Election
I have never known my country quite so polarised and angry and this election only exacerbated the divisions brought on by the referendum even further. But it also had an inter-generational aspect to it and Jeremy Corbyn successfully tapped into that. Wishing for a better world is not to be scoffed at, and the young do have a legitimate gripe: Qualifications that don’t match jobs, work that is tenuous, homes impossible to afford and of course student debt. But in the same token there is no such thing as a free lunch and we have to challenge this youthful dreaming and confront some of the myths that underpin it.
Locally, let me try and put the results into perspective. Claire Wright fought an energetic campaign and managed to persuade Liberal Democrats voters to vote for her tactically to get the Tory out. That was me! But for her to win the seat of East Devon she needs to persuade traditional Conservatives to come over to her and that will be more problematic because of her loathing of anything Tory. Also, it’s no accident that there are no independents at Westminster, large amounts of spin and PR might say otherwise, but independents are all but powerless when they have no machine or party behind them.
On a personal level the election was probably the most unpleasant I have ever fought as a candidate. Twitter changed from a place where one could receive civilised views to a place dominated by unpleasantness and vitriol. Our posters were all either pulled up, vandalised or stolen. The Express and Echo and Devon Live lost any sense of balance between the candidates pushing Claire Wright as its chosen candidate thereby driving forward its left leaning agenda. (A quick Google search against my name will confirm this). Then there was the You Gov poll saying Claire Wright was going to win, which was given extensive media coverage, and thereby hope to those who supported her, when in fact You Gov only sampled 75 people and states itself that the said sample was way too small to produce reliable estimates!
Of course all’s fair in love and war and politics and a sitting MP can expect a tough ride because of incumbency; he will always be accused by his opponents of complacency and absenteeism, even though his role is to represent constituents interests in Westminster not Westminster in his constituency. And with a hung parliament that will be even more the case.
No, this election went terribly wrong in my view, not only because of a disastrous campaign by the Conservatives but because it seemed more interested in personality than policy, both locally and nationally. For me it side stepped the great issue of our time which is how Brexit will define us as a nation and how we can best make a success of it.