My team organised a really wonderful launch on Saturday, attended by Martin Bell, former BBC war reporter and Independent MP, elected amid a storm of controversy for Tatton in 1997.
He ousted Conservative incumbent, Neil Hamilton, who was embroiled in a cash for questions scandal.
It was amazing to have Martin there and he gave a rousing speech where he said he thought I would win, that I was a community champion and that I had integrity.
Around 100 people were brought together in just two days, following the announcement of the election. It was a wonderful atmosphere, full of excitement and hope!
Here’s a local news report of the event … https://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/former-mp-predicts-general-election-win-for-independent-claire-wright-1-6356224
And here’s my speech! ……………
Thank you Martin, for generous intro… it was actually during my deliberations on whether or not to stand in the 2015 election that I read your book and it was one of the reasons I decided to stand. Interestingly, Martin came up with something called the Bell Principles for public life.
Basically a stronger moral framework for politicians to conduct themselves by, than the current Nolan Principles.
LGA Indie group has adopted these principles!
So his influence national and local politics will continue for a long time yet!
It’s amazing to see so many of you here and what a great atmosphere!
I was reflecting this morning on my election campaigns over the years. This one will be my third parliamentary campaign. Fought six campaigns in total since 2011.
I started preparing for the 15 election in January 14… launched in June 14 and campaigned for a YEAR before the election took place in the May.
The second one couldn’t have been more different! I was in the middle of my campaign to get re-elected to DCC when I heard the news of TM snap election.
I had no team, no money and no plan! And I was told by the county solicitor I wasn’t able to announce my candidacy until after the DCC election had taken place.
So, after a totally crazy two weeks, and many many people urging me to run, we finally launched the campaign with just five weeks ahead of us!
And just look what we all achieved in five weeks!
This election is a combination of the previous two. It’s another snap election.
But I have never been more prepared.
And I’ve never felt so grounded and sure of myself as a parliamentary candidate.
And I’ve never wanted to be East Devon’s MP more than I do now.
And the level of support this time is truly incredible. I can barely keep up with offers of help/leafleting and requests for boards and posters!
…. But I was also reflecting on the shifting attitude towards me by the outgoing MP, Sir Hugo Swire …
Aside from the odd swipe, he pretty much behaved as though I didn’t exist in 2015… Oh aside from the photo of him looking into a drain which he told the Sidmouth Herald I should have got fixed.
Then in 2017 he was definitely twitchier, with the odd barbed comment and many reports of him running me down to voters at the door.
But this year I’ve already been amazed, especially given that he is standing down, next week, about how panicky he seems to be!
Just a flavour of his tweets this week…
Firstly, he issued a press release claiming Ottery Hospital’s building is safe, based on a rather vague letter by Matt Hancock. Sir Hugo accuses me of “stirring up anxiety” in the press release.
Of course the danger to all our local hospitals has been caused by the Tories underfunding of the NHS and the creation of NHS PS which is charging extortionate rents to local health trusts when previously they owned the buildings!
So at best Sir Hugo has attempted to fix what his own party has broken. Or …. it’s just electioneering in an attempt to secure some kind of positive legacy! Time will tell.
But he also can’t seem to decide whether his strategy is that I’m not a threat at all, OR I am a huge threat to be defeated at all costs!
31 Oct retweet from a young ED Tory – “We must do all we can to counter the threat posed by Independent Candidate Claire Wright to keep East Devon Constituency blue as the renowned @HugoSwire steps down from office! Here’s a link for @Young_Tories to register to vote to maximise our chances!”
Just a few hours later! …“Supporters of @ClaireWrightInd desperately trying to organise tactical voting. Don’t think it’s going to happen. The Liberal Democrat’s are a national party and this is a national election. Reckon the independents will be the ones squeezed.”
My manifesto, based on the views of East Devon residents, will be soon winging its way to around 80,000 houses in the constituency.
Campaign materials are being prepared for downloading from my website.
Boards are being delivered and are popping like mushrooms already!
The hefty nomination papers will soon be handed in.
And we’re all working feverishly to finalise the last details before we can all go out and hit the streets.
I was inspired by the great Margaret Mead. Anyone who reads my blogs has seen the quote: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
I believe that today more than ever and I think that sentiment rings truer than ever.
The establishment will always tell you not to bother, you can’t change things…you will never beat them.
But just look at what Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg have achieved in just one year!
I can’t count on big business, helpful national newspapers, offshore hedge funds, and wealthy donors.
I only have the good will and support of a small group of thoughtful committed citizens.
My team, my volunteers, my supporters…you people sitting here.
It is amazing that in just a few years ….we… have come from nowhere to a realistic chance of winning this seat.
I now have a realistic chance of becoming the first non Conservative MP in East Devon for 150 years.
We have come to a point…. where a former Foreign Office Minister feels he needs to rally the troops to counter the threat of Claire Wright Independent.
To be honest, I don’t tend to go around making threats. It all sounds a bit macho and is not really my thing. But I do know how to keep a promise.
Incidentally, today I made a decision to return a 5K donation from a big business from another part of the country. There’s nothing wrong with the business, it is perfectly decent and it was really generous of them to donate.
But I have always pledged not to accept donations from big business so I made the decision to return it.
I want to be crowd funded by the people who support me.
If I am elected, I promise to do something different, to represent the people of East Devon, not a political party.
To fight for the issues you have told me matter most.
To carry out my manifesto, which is based on your priorities of the NHS, environment, supporting small businesses, young people, vulnerable people, schools and other public services.
I support a final referendum on Boris Johnson’s dreadful Brexit deal and I would campaign to remain in the EU.
This election is regarded as the most important and unpredictable in a generation.
Pollster, Professor John Curtice, says the time is ripe for independents to get elected.
I stand before you, ready for the final push to become your MP.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the help and support so far … and in advance of a crazy few weeks!
We can win this!