The 2017 East Devon Parliamentary Election Result
The East Devon area has had a Conservative MP for more than 150 years. Increasingly that is being challenged.
In the 2017 General Election, voter turnout in East Devon was 73.4%
I won 21,270 votes, which was more than twice the cumulative votes of all the other challengers (9,806) making me the only credible alternative to a Conservative MP in East Devon.
Between 1974 and 2019, the Conservatives had a large majority in East Devon District Council, a majority that was lost in the 2019 local elections when Independent councillors managed to gain control of the council for the first time in its 45 year history.
Nationally, large political parties are faltering and fracturing and failing to represent people’s views. Increasingly, people are turning to Independent alternatives.
East Devon Election 2017
What does Independent mean?
I am a true Independent in that I am not part of a political party and never have been. My campaign team, leaflet distributors and campaigners are all volunteers. We have raised money in past elections through hundreds of donations thanks to the generosity of local residents.
I am an Independent because it gives me the ability to represent people without being required to follow a party line. Every MP has the right to vote in the Commons, but most are often obliged to vote against their own beliefs in order to support their party.
I would always be free to form my own views and would do my best to represent East Devon. In a hung Parliament in particular, every vote counts.
I write my own manifestos which are based on the views of East Devon people, having run a survey in 2014 and a follow up in 2019. Around 500 people responded to each survey and I will publish the latest version of my manifesto when the next general election is announced.
I am the voice of East Devon in Westminster, not the voice of Westminster in East Devon.
About my role as a Devon County Councillor
I was elected to Devon County Council in May 2013, with 2970 votes (a 74% share). I replaced former Independent county councillor, Roger Giles, in 2013, who has encouraged me every step of the way and is still part of my campaign team.
In 2017 I was re-elected to Otter Valley Ward, with 3638 votes (a 75% share).
I am a member of the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee. Protecting our precious NHS services, including our community hospitals has been a big focus of my time on this committee. I have chaired a review into paid care in people’s homes, following hundreds of community hospital bed closures. The review found that services were very stretched, especially end-of-life care.
You can read the full report here
During the summer of 2019 I chaired a review into how unpaid carers are faring, having conducted some research which concerned me, into how people are managing to care for others, while still making ends meet.
I have been involved in a wide range of work and campaigns over the years and have lodged many motions, mostly related to the NHS and nature, gaining the strong support of the council.
One big success has been Devon County Council’s wildflower verge policy, which was launched in May 2019, following my pilot of three verges in my own ward in 2013. With a continuing catastrophic decline in insects, it is more vital than ever that the use of pesticides is drastically limited and we all encourage pollinator friendly plants in our gardens.
While my two enduring passions are nature and the NHS, I am also a very vocal critic of the government’s austerity agenda, which has crippled local councils and is negatively affecting local people’s lives. In Devon County Council alone, over £100m has been cut by central government.
My view is that it is irresponsible and unnecessary to play with people’s lives in this way. The people who are most affected are always those who find it hardest to stand up for themselves, such as the elderly, the disabled, children and young people.
What I stand for
I believe that government should prioritise caring for its people (particularly the elderly, disabled, children and teenagers), protecting wildlife and our environment from harm and supporting local small businesses.
Government should be open, transparent, inclusive and work for the benefit of the people it serves.
Instead, I mostly observe a government obsessed with clinging onto power, whatever the cost and ministers who are more concerned with currying favour with party donors than actually representing people’s views.
Having integrity isn’t difficult, it just requires honesty and consideration of those whose interests you represent.
What does Claire think about Brexit?
Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement will leave us poorer, with weaker environmental, animal welfare, consumer and employment protections. Rather than “getting Brexit done”, it will lead to years of trade negotiations, break up the UK and endanger our NHS.
The government should offer the people a democratic say on the agreement by way of a confirmatory vote. I would campaign to remain.
Years of cuts have been very damaging to our health services. East Devon has a high percentage of people who rely on the NHS and we need to ensure that services are run efficiently but also adequately funded. This means campaigning for improved health and social services as well as opposing cuts to existing services.
Austerity has hit our schools hard. Devon is almost at the bottom of the funding table nationally, this government has starved schools of resources; this has led to fewer teachers, fewer subjects at A Level and bigger class sizes. In 2019, Exmouth Community College was struggling so badly it was forced to ask parents to contribute to the school budget. Ministers should be ashamed that they risk jeopardising the education of our children.
In November 2013 the Woodland Trust asked me to be its Tree Champion for Devon, which is a huge honour. Since becoming Tree Champion, and thanks to help from the Woodland Trust, I have successfully persuaded Devon County Council to carry out more tree planting on its land. It is vital to protect our trees as we have very little woodland cover in the UK compared with the rest of Europe. Trees provide oxygen and limit carbon in the atmosphere. They reduce air pollution, provide food and shelter for wildlife, minimise erosion, maintain healthy soil, increase rainfall, and absorb sunlight as energy. Simply, trees are an essential component of life on Earth.
We are witnessing a dramatic decline in numbers of many wildlife species, such as hedgehogs, insects and birds. Wildflower meadows have also seen a massive 97 % fall in recent times. Without flowers, insects cannot thrive and the natural cycle is disrupted. The consequences are potentially catastrophic.
East Devon is seeing a very large amount of development to the detriment to our environment. We live in a beautiful area and we must protect it. We need more homes, especially for younger and less well-off local people – truly affordable homes – but the scale of development that we are now experiencing is unprecedented and is destroying our countryside, as well as compromising infrastructure, such as our schools, roads and health services.
Only around 40 per of our land is deemed suitable for growing crops. The rest is grazing or woodland. Unfortunately, the government’s policies on protecting high quality arable land from development are woefully inadequate. This is a calamity for future food security.
The East Devon constituency now runs from Exmouth to St Loyes in Exeter, including Topsham, Cranbrook and Ottery St Mary.
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