Dear Hugo Swire
In a Western Morning News interview with Phil Goodwin, published online on 1st May 2015, you state, “There is no doubt that Claire Wright and the EDA are one and the same – I don’t know how they manage to say they are independent when it is a registered party”.

We would be grateful if you now desist in attempting to influence the District Council election with this misinformation. I am Chairman of the East Devon Alliance and whether you are or are not returned as the member for East Devon to Parliament is of no matter to me, my vice chairman, treasurer or communications director. None of us live in your former constituency.

If you visit our website and read our extensive literature – indeed, watch our videos – your name does not occur once. We have taken great pains to defend ourselves from the moment when someone such as you casually concocts the canard that Mrs Wright and we are co-campaigners with the intent of denigrating both her and us.

It would be worth your taking the time to properly research your subject. As Independents we have allied under an umbrella because many of your operatives in the local Conservative party in East Devon are unfit to wear the national rosette. Standing as an Independent in very many of the towns and villages is to be the subject of tactics unfit for our nation’s political life.

In the self-evident lack of public faith in East Devon District Council – well-known matters which you have disdained to engage with – is the epitome of our failing democracy. Our alliance is precisely how it will be rebuilt, and it is at moments such as this that we can defend ourselves from untruths such as yours. What is the East Devon Alliance but a manifestation of the Localism your party professes to support?

Your sources should have told you – as could the Electoral Commission – that we specifically chose to register with them in the category of groups precluded from campaigning in national elections. I have not spoken for Mrs Wright or even seen her campaign literature; I live in Colyton, on the eastern edge of Neil Parish’s patch. I have not attended any of your joint hustings, being too busy with the district election.

I am aware, however, that she has consistently tried to address the well-recorded problems at EDDC with courage and determination. If you had bothered to attend any of the meetings at which she was shouted down by the sexist goons on the Conservative side I like to think you may have been alerted to the public disgust with them – and with your party in the District – rather sooner, and that you would have been man enough to intervene.

To conclude, we are not “one and the same”, and we are registered as a party because despite 5 years to do so your government has not found the time to move on with recommendations emerging from select committees that local campaigning groups such as us should not, of course, have to register centrally at the Electoral Commission.

Please desist from making false statements about us and fight your own battles rather than those of your district underlings who, you must surely realise, have done so much to have created your current predicament.

Yours faithfully

Paul Arnott
Chair, East Devon Alliance