Clear battle lines are now drawn for the final week of campaigning in the Bridgwater and West Somerset Constituency as the ‘Somerset Loves Europe’ Husting held at the Bridgwater Arts Centre to a packed auditorium coincided with the last ‘Tactical Voting’ website calling clearly for a Labour vote to beat the Tories. At the Hustings, chaired by former British Diplomat Anthony Smallwood, the 3 main contenders turned up to face the public whilst Tory incumbant , Ian Lidell-Grainger, yet again delivered a ‘no show’ to be joined in his bunker this time by ‘Liberal’ Liberal Fares Moussa, leaving Oliver Thornton (Labour) Bill Revans (Lib Dem) and Mickie Ritchie (Green) to stake their claims to be the candidate that could oust the timid Tory from his fortress of solitude (that’s Bicknoller).
In the Bridgwater and West Somerset Constituency the Tories are faultering and the Lib Dems are failing to make ground while Labour have been boosted by a rise in the national polls which bodes well for the final week of campaigning. In this ‘safe tory seat’ – which means ‘taken for granted’ by the Tories, a new survey by Change.org has put local Conservative MP Ian Lidell-Grainger as 623rd out of 650 Members of Parliament when it comes to ‘judging what makes a good MP’. Their ‘people power index’ assesses members on their openness and responsiveness to their constituents. A spokesperson said “The People-Power Index should be viewed as a health check of how Parliament is working and how our MPs are listening to, and engaging with, their constituents.”
There was something akin to terror at Tory central offices in Bridgwater last saturday as Conservative party staff dialled 999 and called for Police assistance when a giant badger appeared outside. The Tories who support the controversial badger cull, must have felt their come-uppance was nigh and a giant zombie badger from their evil past had appeared to wreak Godzilla-like vengeance on the offices of the Badger Hunter in chief Ian Lidell-Grainger. But despite the knee trembling fear of the instigators of this flawed policy it turned out instead to just be Percy The (man in a giant) Badger (costume) who had been meeting candidates in Bridgwater’s Cornhill. Labour, Green and Lib Dems all turned up to show badgery solidarity. The Green candidate gave a polite wave, Labour councillor Li Gibson offered a firm hug and a cuddle and the Lib Dem chased him round the Blake statue with some giant syringe. But the Tory was nowhere to be seen…so they went to see where he was and visited Tory HQ.
The cornerstone of Labour’s radical manifesto is the ‘Green New Deal’ and with more than 50% public support for ambitious climate targets to decarbonise by 2030 or earlier, this means that a majority of voters are on board with Labour’s target of net-zero emissions by 2030. In Somerset we have suffered serious flooding in 2014 and have a tidal barrier planned for the River Parrett, home to the world’s second highest tide. Oliver Thornton, Labour candidate for Bridgwater and West Somerset, went out onto the Somerset levels to meet one victim of those floods and his conclusions reinforce the case for the Green New Deal to tackle the climate emergency head on.
Oliver says “The Green New Deal would guarantee secure, unionised work for every worker in every transition industry and massively expand the provision of public services. This election is our last chance to tackle the climate emergency. Labour’s socialist Green New Deal is one of the keys to decisively winning this election. Bringing energy generation and distribution, transport, utilities, health and social care, pharmaceuticals and more into public ownership can’t come quickly enough. By democratically running those industries by and for the many, we can ensure that they contribute to a rapid and just decarbonisation effort that spans the whole economy. “
With more than 2,000 people waiting for a council home in Sedgemoor – but not a single home built here last year, Labour pledges a “housing revolution” with the biggest council house building programme for decades. Labour’s manifesto launching tomorrow (Thursday) will include new plans for the biggest council and social housing programme in decades to transform the lives of millions of people struggling to afford a decent home because of the housing crisis. The new plans will be paid for with funding from Labour’s Social Transformation Fund. Half of Labour’s Social Transformation Fund – around £75bn over five years – will be allocated to housing.
On Friday 15 November, Michael Eavis warmly welcomed Kama McKenzie, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Wells constituency, to Worthy Farm, giving her his full support. The pair discussed a range of local issues, including affordable housing – a topic close to Eavis’s heart. To date, Eavis has built 68 affordable homes in Pilton, which he has reserved for local families under long-term tenancies and vows never to sell. Of Labour’s plans to build 1 million affordable homes over the next ten years, Eavis says: ‘It’s incredibly important that families can stay in their local area, feeling secure with homes for life.’ Eavis also celebrated the success of Glastonbury’s St Dunstan’s School, where McKenzie is a parent governor, acknowledging that a change in leadership had turned the school around. The two talked about the importance to the local area of sustaining the school’s improvement and shared concerns about the levels of funding for education under the current government, as well as their hopes for future generations under a Labour leadership.
Labour candidate for Bridgwater and West Somerset Oliver Thornton launched his campaign on Friday night to a packed Charter Hall in the Municipal HQ of Labour run Bridgwater and the next morning was in Minehead at the heart of Tory West Somerset with a host of supporters in Wellington Square and then on to the streets and estates of the town meeting voters and stressing the seriousness of his campaign to win the seat from Tory Lidell-Grainger. Labour is in a strong second place in the constituency and with the Liberal vote split between 2 rival parties are the obvious choice for anyone who can see beyond Brexit and remove the Conservatives to give us all a future. Oliver was joined on stage by Cllr Brian Smedley, leader of the Labour council, Cllr Glen Burrows who spoke about the ‘hope’ that a Labour Government would bring, Cllr Mick Lerry, who spoke about the need for affordable housing and well paid and meaningful employment and Andrew Jefferey, who spoke about young people and the Green New Deal.
Of course it may just be the early nights but the feeling that the people are closing in on the Tories the nearer we get to Christmas the more the red banners of hope fly stronger. Today, as Boris Johnson was chased unceremoniously out of the county where every single MP is Tory-for the time being – the battle lines were drawn and the candidates revealed.
Somerton & Frome Labour Party launched their general election campaign at the Cheese and Grain with Candidate Sean Dromgoole standing alongside Labour candidate for Wells, Kama McKenzie.
Sean Dromgoole started with an attack on the LibDem leadership saying “we have to remember that a lot of people used to vote LibDem when it was the party of Shirley Williams, Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy. Those voters haven’t changed. What has changed is the party under Jo Swinson….she served under David Cameron… voted for austerity…. the bedroom tax…you name it Jo Swinson voted for it.”
Sean then directed his fire against the Tories saying “What Johnson has done is take a lesson from Donald Trump, he’s fired all the sensible ones, the Ken Clarkes, Dominic Grieves and Amber Rudds are all out on their ears. Now his party is in hock to the European Research Group the Mark Francoises, the Steve Bakers, Liam Foxes, Ian Duncan Smiths, Jacob Rees Moggs and yes – down at the bottom of the list, purely for alphabetical reasons, Mr David Warburton.” Continue reading “The Lights Are Going Out Across the County…..for the Tories”
When Boris Johnson turned up in Somerset today, most people assumed he was looking for one of our famous ditches to die in. As it happens, he was hoping to get some publicity out of a visit to a school and a bakery. Sadly, for the Tory propaganda machine he was met at every turn by protestors and forced to change his plans. Boris Johnson was heckled yet again as he visited a school this morning.
Hopes that after being booed by angry flood protestors up in Yorkshire yesterday the PM presumed that Tory Somerset would be safe territory for him, but clearly not so. Shouts of “Boris out” rang out around West Monkton Primary School in Taunton where he sat down with schoolchildren, discussing their favourite books and ,tempting fate, asked the children “Where’s Wally?”Continue reading “Boris Beats a Hasty Retreat as Somerset Sends Him Packing”
Oliver Thornton is the Labour Party candidate for Bridgwater and West Somerset. Oliver is 32,has a law degree and works in anti financial crime in London. His professional title is ‘anti-financial crime business architect’. Originally from Yorkshire he married Katy, whose family have a dairy farm here in the West Country and together they have a one year old son Frank. In this short film Oliver sets out his stall in his own words.