19th May 2017 | News | Claire

    The draw of this campaign seems much stronger than in 2015, where I came second to Conservative Hugo Swire with 13,140 votes and a 24 per cent share.

    I am the only Independent candidate in the country to have been endorsed by the chief tactical voting website https://www.tactical2017.com/, and my odds with William Hill are currently 9/2.

    Below is some important information for you to download and an ever increasing number of questions and answers!

    I hope you will consider giving your vote on 8 June to a hard-working effective and experienced Councillor, who already has a great track record of representing people on the issues they care about most.


    If you wish to donate, the best way is through Crowdpac at https://www.crowdpac.co.uk/campaigns/2644/claire-wright.


    My manifesto is based on thousands of conversations I have had with people since 2014. Most recently in the Devon County Council elections, where I was re-elected with 3,638 votes and a 75 per cent share.  This result is, for the second time, the biggest majority and vote share among Devon County Councillors.

    Here’s a copy to download – http://www.claire-wright.org/img/election/gemanifesto2017.pdf
    2017 Manifesto p12017 Manifesto p2


    If you’d like to support me please consider displaying a poster in your house or car window. It will encourage others to support me also! Thank you! 

    Here’s the downloadable version – http://www.claire-wright.org/img/election/clairewrightposter17.pdf



    Saturday 20 May
    10am – Ottery – outside Boots
    11.30am – Sidmouth – Market Square
    2pm – Exmouth – Magnolia Centre, outside Boots
    3.30pm – Budleigh – town end of the seafront

    Saturday 27 May
    10am – Ottery St Mary – outside Boots
    11.30am – Cranbrook – outside Younghayes Centre
    2pm – Exmouth – Magnolia Centre, outside Boots
    3.30pm – Budleigh Salterton – town end of the seafront

    Saturday 3 June
    10am – Topsham – outside Methodist Church

    AFTERNOON: Canvassing


    Firstly, I am deeply disappointed to report that Hugo Swire has refused to take part in ANY hustings.  This would appear to be because he does not wish to debate with me, as I have been challenging him publicly on a range of issues for around three years now. Slinking off into the shadows in this way is all rather cowardly, in my view.

    Hustings are an important part of the democratic process and allow candidates a golden opportunity to let residents know how they intend to represent them if elected. 

    This is what I intend to do, regardless of whether Hugo Swire makes an appearance or not.

    Hustings are booked in so far at:

    Friday 26 May, 7.30pm – Cranbrook – Education Campus
    Tuesday 30 May, 7.30pm – Exmouth – Holy Trinity Church


    Exeter Q&A with Claire
    Friday 2 June, 7pm – Newcourt Community Centre


    Please do join me on Twitter at @ClaireWrightInd or the ongoing political debates on my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/clairewrightindependent/.


    Austerity and public services

    Austerity has caused huge hardship to the most vulnerable people in society, with massive cuts to council budgets and other public services.

    Devon County Council has lost more than half its budget in seven years, resulting in many services gone, including care homes, children’s centres, day centres, children’s homes. Roads are now continually potholed, and efforts to improve highway safety and reduce speeding have been compromised due to lack of funding.


    For the police, it has meant the loss of hundreds of officers and the closure of many police stations. And now the likely loss of hundreds of police community support officers, who are part of the fabric of communities and deal with low-level crime such as anti social behaviour, parking and speeding problems and cycling safety for children.

    The NHS

    The NHS has suffered from a reduction in the annual growth funding which used to be around six per cent and has dropped to one per cent. The government introduced a greater involvement from the private sector under the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, and removed nurse training bursaries despite a shortage of nurses.

    Many GPs are leaving the NHS, and there are shortages of junior doctors and just about every other discipline. Many are leaving due to the working conditions which are often described as stressful and very challenging due to underfunding.

    If the government isn’t deliberately trying to damage the NHS with its actions, it is certainly giving that impression.

    The Government’s position

    The Conservatives say the money isn’t there for these services and they must be cut. However, they are spending vast sums of money, including:
    – A £7bn third runway at Heathrow
    – Corporate tax breaks for big business and high earners, costing £2bn
    – Not properly addressing tax avoidance by big business, costing billions
    – Billions on free schools and new grammar schools, while our schools suffer significant underfunding meaning losses of teachers, increased class sizes and fewer subjects
    – The new HS2 rail-link at a cost of around £70bn
    – Millions on creating new Conservative peers in the House of Lords
    – A new road building scheme, costing around £1bn

    Austerity hasn’t worked. National debt has soared since austerity was introduced in 2010.  The government, quite wrongly, appears to devalue public services and doesn’t appear to consider them part of the economy, which is bizarre and short-sighted.

    Every year, without fail, East Devon’s Conservative representative in Parliament has voted in the House of Commons in FAVOUR of massive cuts to councils and the police, regardless of the hardship the cuts are causing to local people.

    Hunting with hounds

    I campaigned against vivisection, hunting with hounds and other cruel sports such as hare coursing in my teens and early twenties. I continue to oppose hunting and would vote against any repeal of the ban.


    This is a somewhat thorny issue. My position is that while it is important that we have a well-resourced armed forces, I have concerns about the renewal of Trident, on the basis it costs £100bn over its lifetime. I believe that this country needs to be working with other powerful world leaders on a programme of reducing such weapons, which could cause really appalling levels of long-term destruction.


    While not in favour of an open door policy, I do support immigration. It is vital for the economy and also services such as the NHS and social care would fail if it wasn’t for hard working overseas workers who make an important contribution.

    I believe also that we need to take our fair share of refugees from war-torn countries where people are experiencing persecution. I have signed a pledge stating that I welcome refugees to this country.

    Holidays in term-time

    I have sympathy with parents who find it hard to take their children on holiday outside term-time because of work pressures or the high cost of travelling at peak times. While I agree that on principle children must be at school in term-time and parents should endeavour to take family holidays during school holidays, I believe that this should be a general framework agreed with parents. I disagree with fines being imposed.


    The biggest issue for farmers is Brexit and the potential loss of vital EU subsidies. Farmers play two very important roles: food production, and stewardship of the countryside. It is vital that those subsidies are transferred in the form of a government grant to ensure that food security is maintained. The last thing we need is to be importing food from countries that do not share our standards on animal welfare, health and environment. 

    The government must also ensure that pollinators and other species flourish by maintaining the environmental stewardship role of farmers. We need hedgerows and wildflowers rather than monoculture. Worryingly, the latest State of Nature report states that many UK species are in decline and even at risk of extinction due to habitat loss, pesticide use and climate change. 

    Farmers have a vital role in turning this situation around and must be supported to achieve this. A thriving natural world is in all our interests.


    I am very sorry to report that Hugo Swire has refused to sign a pledge put together by 30 environmental charities asking MPs to vote in favour of providing at least the same level of legal protection to our landscapes and species as currently provided for under EU legislation.

    In East Devon this is very relevant because EU legal protections apply to landscapes and species in areas including Aylesbeare and Woodbury Commons, as well as the Exe Estuary. Much of Dartmoor is also protected.

    I successfully proposed a motion at Devon County Council’s full council meeting in April which called on the government to provide at least the same level of protections to these places. Across Devon there are 122 sites across 115,000 hectares that are currently protected under EU law.

    Nuclear power

    I have been deeply concerned about the massive cost to the taxpayer of Hinkley C – around £37bn – given that Hinkley will provide just SEVEN per cent of this country’s electricity needs.

    Nuclear waste is dangerous and extraordinarily difficult to dispose of.

    At the same time, the Conservative government has ruthlessly slashed renewable energy subsidies, resulting in thousands of job losses.  While we still need nuclear energy as part of a mix, clean renewable energy MUST be the way forward.

    I completely oppose the environmentally damaging process of fracking, which also contributes to CO2 emissions.


    I voted to REMAIN in the European Union for a range of reasons, including environmental, employment, business, and the simple belief that we are better off working alongside our neighbours in a productive way.

    I do acknowledge though that many people were unhappy with aspects of the EU and had concerns about some of its functions.

    I am very concerned about the possibility of a ‘hard Brexit’ which could see us without an adequate deal from the EU and reliant on trade deals with countries who do not share our high standards on health, human rights, employment, animal welfare and the environment, as well as a range of other issues.

    I believe that it is vital that there is a meaningful vote in Parliament on any final Brexit deal.

    Housing crisis

    There needs to be more genuinely affordable housing built for younger people and those of us on low incomes. Unfortunately this government has made this more difficult by slashing the threshold at which developers must provide affordable housing when submitting planning applications.

    There are hundreds of thousands of empty properties across the country that need to be made habitable. Laws should be altered to speed this process up.  Also, there are many properties, especially in Devon, that are used for holidays and are empty for most of the year, which also damages the local economy.

    I would like to see these properties subject to significantly increased council tax charges, which would provide more revenue for public services.

    Business rates

    The new rules on business rates that went live in April mean that many businesses are worse off in East Devon. There is a disincentive to grow, and the business rates system is unfair in general because rates only apply if a business is attached to a property. So online businesses get a much easier deal, even huge corporations such Google and Facebook. A much fairer alternative to the current business rate is needed and one approach may be to simply base rates on turnover.

    Voting and Democracy

    1. I am very keen to involve as many people as possible in our democratic processes. I want to see a fair voting system.

    2. Unfair voting system

    2.1 Unfortunately the voting system in this country deters people from voting, rather than encourage them. Unfortunately we have a grossly unfair voting system.
    2.2 Most people in this country are represented by MPs that they did not vote for.
    2.3 Most people in this country are represented by a government that they did not vote for.
    2.4 I want to see a system where everyone`s vote counts, and everyone`s voice is heard.

    3. Students and Young People

    3.1 I have made many visits to schools in East Devon to encourage students to take an interest in, and become involved in local issues and local government and politics. I am greatly impressed at the maturity and social responsibility of our local young people.
    3.2 However the government refuses to allow sixteen and seventeen year olds to vote.
    3.3 Young people were even denied a vote in the European referendum, the consequences of which will affect them for very many years to come. This is wholly wrong. If 16 year olds can marry, drive cars, join the army, and pay taxes they should have the right to vote.

    4 Proportional Representation (PR) and other voting systems.

    4.1 As I have said earlier, the UK Parliament is elected by a First Past the Post system.
    4.2 Yet other elections, such as for Police and Crime Commissioners, are carried out under forms of PR such as a Single Transferable Vote (STV).
    4.3 PR systems allow people to exercise second preference votes. Voters are not restricted to voting for one candidate, who they might anticipate has little chance of being elected.
    4.4 Under such systems the candidate with fewest votes is eliminated, and his/her votes are redistributed. This continues until a candidate has more than 50% of the votes, and is therefore elected.
    4.5 Under this system everybody’s vote counts.
    4.6 The Conservatives want to abolish this fairer system, and make all elections subject to the undemocratic First Past the Post system.
    4.7 First Past The Post ensures that political parties such as UKIP and the Green Party receive millions of votes, and get just a single MP each.

    5 Sunday voting

    5.1 The vast majority of European countries vote on Sundays.
    5.2 In this country we vote on Thursdays.
    5.3 If we also voted on Sundays, it would allow more people to vote, and more people would be involved in our democratic processes.

    6 Communicating with Electors

    6.1 As a councillor I have always tried to engage fully with, and particularly to listen to, my electorate – not just at the time of elections, but all through the year. I embrace modern methods of communication such as my blog and Twitter, but I also try to talk to people as much as possible and arrange meetings and events.
    6.2 There is a disappointing trend of political parties not talking to people on their doorsteps, instead unfortunately (in my view) using telephone calling. I try to use all methods of communicating – old and new – with my constituents.

    7 Political Debates

    7.1 I am particularly disappointed that the Tory candidate, and former MP, for East Devon has announced that he will not take part in hustings with other candidates.
    7.2 This is yet another blow to our democratic processes. People who do not vote can hardly be criticised if their would-be MP will not debate his policies in public.

    8 Election Spending

    8.1 There should be strictly enforced spending limits for elections.
    8.2 It is quite wrong that a political party could win an election because it is able to spend a hugely greater sum of money than others.
    8.3 There should be complete openness and transparency about funding political parties, and where the donations have come from.
    8.4 I have followed these principles in my General Election campaign, and have stated that I will not accept donations from businesses, so as not to be under an obligation to them.