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40,000 leaflets ready to go, as Hugo Swire says “Game on!”

Friday, 02 January 2015 18 Comments by Claire

It is certainly “game on” as far as Campaign Team Wright is concerned!  We now have 40,000 leaflets, in 62 boxes, poised for delivery across the constituency….

Printed courtesy of the excellent Sidmouth Print.

The delivery weighed as much as a four-berth caravan and was the biggest order Sidmouth Print had ever received.

Here’s Hugo’s assessment of his chances in May ....


1. At 08:08 pm on 02th Jan Roger Giles wrote:

East Devon recipients of election material over the next four months might like to look to see where it was printed. They might like to see if those seeking their vote are actually supporting local businesses

2. At 09:01 pm on 02th Jan Sandra Semple wrote:

And I am sure Team Wright is much more dynamic than “Team Swire” which seems not only very, very small but very, very old (and I say this as an old woman who thinks politics must have new blood if we are to get out of the terrible mess the “old bloods” have got us in here in East Devon.)

3. At 12:24 pm on 03th Jan Paul wrote:

Let’s hope two things:

1. That the wall of boxes don’t fall on Claire.

2. That she can still access her house.

4. At 12:45 pm on 03th Jan Tim wrote:

East Devon people supporting East Devon people not coming in from elsewhere just to use them.
Just what we want from an East Devon parliamentarian .

5. At 06:32 pm on 03th Jan Paul wrote:

I was surprised when Hugo Swire said he was looking forward to the general election “because it gives me a good excuse to spend time down here; it is a lovely time of year to do this, so it is no hardship.”

So not only does he see himself as a visitor to East Devon rather than a resident, needing an excuse to spend time here, but apparently it is a hardship to be here at other times of the year. Out of the mouths of babes ...

He also says that he sees UKIP as the wild card he needs to watch. So whilst he keep a weather eye out for on Nigel, it seems the field is open for Claire to sneak up on him.

6. At 12:15 pm on 04th Jan Paul Arnott wrote:

I don’t live in the part of East Devon where Claire is standing and I wish we had an Independent candidate like her to vote for. Well done, Claire, on a blistering 2014 on the stump, and all best wishes to you and your supporters for 2015. I hope all those in the west of the district appreciate their great good fortune in being offered this choice.

Now it’s up to all you Independently minded people across the district to fight the independent corner at district, town and parish levels too.

7. At 02:37 pm on 04th Jan Tim Cope wrote:

To follow on from Paul’s Comment, I would be interested in What Hugo Swire has achieved to benefit East Devon since 2001 as our M.P.????

8. At 08:20 pm on 04th Jan Sandra Semple wrote:

Well, he did have his photo taken looking at drains that were already scheduled to be fixed and said “These drains need fixing”.  AND he went to Sainsbury’s to be shown how they make pizzas should he ever get tired of deliveries from Harrods.

9. At 08:12 pm on 05th Jan Chris Wakefield wrote:

On 14th December last the model and showgirl Many Rice-Davies died aged 70. This is only worth a mention because of her legendary riposte in the trial of Stephen Ward (in 1963), when confronted by Counsel with the proposition that Lord Astor had denied ever having met or associated with her during the scandalous parties at Stephen Ward’s county retreat - “well, he would, wouldn’t he”? said Mandy.

Hugo’s dismissal of the suggestion that he spends little time on constituency affairs might just be the first postmortem inventoris use of an MRDA (Many Rice Davies Applies). Fair enough - let’s look more carefully at the issue and see if we can come up with something more substantial. It is, after all, as Hugo has declared… ‘Game On’.

For anyone interested in the detail, there is no better place than where you will find just about everything you might want to know about your MP, and then some.

Most of the comments here are founded on the information available there. Here’s Hugo’s entries. He has spoken in 23 debates in the last year — below average amongst MPs. He has voted in 55.92% of votes in this Parliament, which is well below average amongst MPs (these figures were current on on 04/01/15). 

Since becoming a minister in 2010, his ability to prod the government has been all but neutered, so he’s not much use to an electorate which wants action - and now has the perfect excuse to avoid it. I would have to say in mitigation that these basic figures do not say a vast amount about your MPs performance, but there is data to spare and it’s certainly worth a more careful look behind the headline figures.

In what is fast approaching 14 years in Parliament, Hugo has referred to local affairs (to be precise, the phrase “East Devon” used in debates, questions and so on) on 124 occasions.

To the inexperienced eye,  he is a busy person at Westminster. During the same 14 years (2001 - 2014), other issues of moment have seen him in action 1200 or more times, and as a minister for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office he is in regular correspondence with other MPs on issues as varied as government policy on maintenance of democracy in Hong Kong to the human consumption of dogs and cats in Vietnam - all worthy activity for a minister, but on the face of it not much of immediate relevance for your average East Devonian.

There are questions too, about his approach to politics, and to work out the finer detail here we do need to look in the round at Hugo’s offer to continue as our representative in parliament, including (as far as we can judge) the impact of his personal background on his work and whatever else might be germane to his suitability for the job.

Hugo is a thoroughbred Tory - money from a long established textile business which had its origin in the late 18th century and a well trod path from prep school to Eton to university (not Oxbridge for a change), then Sandhurst, followed by some development work for the National Gallery and later a senior position in Southebys auction house. He is married to a former Tory minister’s daughter, and was, until his ministerial appointment in 2010, a non - executive director of a photobooth company called Photo Me. 

I can’t say what propelled him into politics, but it is likely, given Hugo’s background, that he considered it a career option, and with appropriate contacts on hand he was duly blooded in an election where he couldn’t possibly win (in 1997 as Tory candidate for Inverclyde - a solidly Labour stronghold). Then, having survived that, he was offered the plum Tory seat of East Devon where (at the time) he couldn’t possibly lose.

An unloseable seat is a must-have for anyone wanting a career at Westminster, so someone was smiling on Hugo when they offered him East Devon.
From then on, we ought to be familiar with his progress, yet he remains as elusive as the Ottery beavers, and the accusation that he is too much a Westminster careerist rather than a local politician is, I believe, a case to answer.

On the other hand to avoid yet more MRDAs, some evidence to support this argument has to be tabled, and although commitment is a tricky thing to quantify, if we look again at his 124 mentions of ‘East Devon’ first noted above, some telling patterns emerge. 

Plot the number of mentions against a timeline and you get some distinct peaks of performance - the first in the wake of his initial election to parliament in June 2001, most of it a series of questions to the government during November of that year about what was going on in East Devon. Then it goes quiet until the run up to the next election in 2005.

The same thing happens again but more spectacularly in the run up to the 2010 election. Thereafter…. nothing. Either Hugo’s ministerial duties are intruding massively on his constituency effort, or he hasn’t noticed that an election is due shortly or he is utterly complacent about being re-elected. Whatever the reason “East Devon” seems to have dropped off his radar.

I ought to finish by making it clear that Hugo does not appear anywhere to be anything other than an honest and decent chap, albeit one entirely unsuitable to be our representative in parliament. It may be that many MPs only twitch into action when their jobs are at risk. That is understandable - but it doesn’t make it OK.=

10. At 10:04 pm on 05th Jan Joan Kelly wrote:

How many people put election leaflets straight into the bin without even reading them I wonder?. What a waste of good trees!!!. The electorate have now got wise and feel that candidates are only there to feather their own nests and forget about the electorate once they are elected. If ballot papers had a space which read “none of the above” I wonder how many Xs that box would get?. I wish you well Claire, but everybody you speak to sees UKIP as the only credible Party to vote for.

11. At 10:10 pm on 05th Jan Claire Wright wrote:

thanks Joan, reaching 40,000 homes across the constituency isn’t easy and leaflets must be supplemented of course, with other activities. 

Re Ukip, I have spoken to hundreds, if not thousands of people across the district since last June and have found that they have relatively few supporters. 

No one can predict the outcome of the elections and Ukip may do quite well.

But we will just have to wait and see how many people vote for the person they believe will represent them best at a national level….

12. At 10:25 pm on 05th Jan Tim wrote:

Joan, until recently there was a deficit of decent candidates and a ‘none of the above’ box might have been appropriate. Now however, we have someone who makes such an option no longer necessary. Claire Wright is, of course , that person.
I think most past UKIP voters have done so as they were the nearest thing to ‘none of the above’.
In East Devon at least, such a form of protest is no longer appropriate, real supporters of UKIP are far fewer than they would have us believe.

13. At 10:56 am on 06th Jan Paul Arnott wrote:

It is interesting to see Ukip mentioned above. The parliamentary candidates in our area will not be able to summon enough support, and there are three clear reasons based on the local electorate’s self-interest.

First, as reported yesterday in an NFU statement, anyone connected to one of our key industries, Farming, realises that in the cold light of day withdrawing from Europe would wreck a system of subsidies many now depend upon

Second, anyone with the slightest experience of elderly care, or indeed large parts of the whole hospital personnel profile in our area, realises that closing off free movement of labour would leave tens of thousands in the west without professional health care.

Third, the other key industry creating employment and wealth regionally is Tourism, which by definition seeks to attract people from across the globe rather than sending a message that they (and their working relatives) are not welcome.

Quite apart from any other aspects of Ukip, these three factors will prevent them winning any seats in Devon. And if what Joan (above) is looking for is a “none of the above” candidate, then may I offer the personal assurance that she won’t find a better candidate in the entire country than Claire to break the stalemate.

14. At 05:22 pm on 06th Jan Tim Cope wrote:

I would like to thank Chris for his comment.
As far as UKIP is concerned in East Devon I would have to agree with the comments above.
Claire has a good knowledge of local politics and will be 100% committed to the interests of East Devon at Westminster!
Hugo Swire in my opinion is 100% committed to himself and Westminster!

15. At 10:51 pm on 06th Jan Joan Kelly wrote:

Paul and Tim I will not be voting for UKIP and I am sorry if I gave that impression. Claire has been a wonderful District Councillor and is a breath of fresh air in local politics. Sadly there are many people in this area who would vote for a monkey providing it was wearing a blue rosette.
Paul mentions the NFU and their statement regarding farmers losing their subsidies from the EU if we pull out. Many people feel it’s time farmers stood on their own two feet and stopped receiving hand outs from a corrupt unelected gang of idiots in Brussels who are bleeding the rest of us dry.
People on fixed incomes will buy the cheapest foods that are available in the supermarket and as British produced food seems to be the dearest they will ignore it. Farmers have shot themselves in the foot by continually wanting more money for their produce. You only have to visit a Farmers Market to see the ridiculous prices they are asking.
I have had visitors from the USA and Germany and they are shocked at our food prices and the price of other goods. Tourists may come once to Devon, but won’t return due to the high prices.
Personally I think there will be a lot of tactical voting at the election may be not in this area, but across the rest of the country.
I only hope that more Independents stand for the District and Parish elections to rid us of the entrenched Councillors which we have now.

16. At 11:07 am on 07th Jan Paul Arnott wrote:

Hi Claire, and great to read Joan’s follow-up. I agree heartily with her comment on farming subsidies, and my real point is that just as turkeys won’t vote for Christmas, certain types of farmer (by no means all) would fear that if subsidy distribution were returned to Westminster a future perhaps unsympathetic government may not ring-fence these amounts in their interest. Don’t be surprised if some farmers take the cash to put up Ukip banners on the side of main roads, but vote another way in the end.

However, the good news is that anyone pressing their ear to East Devon district’s cold ground at the moment may just be able to discern the rumbling of Independent feet ...

17. At 02:21 pm on 08th Jan Roger Giles wrote:

Today`s Exmouth Journal included a “UKIP in East Devon” leaflet. Where was it printed? Bodmin, Cornwall!

18. At 02:56 pm on 08th Jan Tim wrote:

Does the fact that it comes with a newspaper mean that there are they lack supporters on the ground I wonder? I am inclined to think so.

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