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 fact, Lidell-Grainger’s tactic generally has been to not turn our publically at all, counting on the fact that losing a few thousand voters here and there won’t make any difference to his inevitable and totally undeserved victory.
Such is his contempt for the people he theoretically represents.
A Tale of Two Liberals
Fares K Moussa, on the other hand, seems to have made an inexplicable choice to not attend. Presumably if you’re going to stand for election you’ll be dead keen to tell people what you’re standing for. And presumably if you’re a ‘democratic liberal’ party (as opposed to a ‘liberal democratic’ party) (now, don’t get confused voters..) then you’ll be more than happy to defend those views in front of real people. But in this case the audience was left as puzzled as the candidate himself as to what his policies might be and leaving the Lib Dem candidate to fondly reminisce unchallenged about the great achievements of the 1906 Campbell Bannerman Liberal Government.
Back in the real world it was a fight between the 3 serious contenders as to who could best topple Liddle grainger.
The Green candidate honestly and openly admitted she wasn’t going to win and she was just standing so that she herself could have someone to vote for and, encouragingly, mentioned candidly that many of her Green friends would be voting Labour. Maybe because Labour had nicked their Green New Deal and were the only party able to actually have a chance to deliver it.
And then there were 2
But no sooner had the field been narrowed down to Labour or Lib Dem, the news came through that the final Tactical Vote site – ‘Best For Britain’ had switched it’s recomendation from Lib Dem to Labour in the Bridgwater and West Somerset Constituency, joining the existing 2 sites that had long been recomending a Labour vote (presumably based on Labours 10,000 vote lead and clear 2nd place) (and no Lib Dem bar chart could deny that…although they tried). Bill Revans joined his leader in not just admitting it was’unlikely’ that the Lib Dems would form a Government but admitting that he had been in considerable disagreement with the policies of the Clegg Lib Dem Coalition that had helped the Tories bring in austerity in the first place.
And then there was 1 -Oliver Thornton, Labour
Oliver Thornton is now the clear favourite to challenge the reign of Tory Fief-Lord Ian Lidell-Grainger. That’s not just tactically, that’s morally. And he made the case very clearly to a terrific response from the cross party audience.
Oliver said:- “It’s a privilege to be here, to talk to all of you. I grew up in a community just like this one in rural North Yorkshire, one of 5 kids. My mum and Dad had met over a patient’s bed in London, a Dutch nurse making a life in this country, a Yorkshire doctor venturing out to the Big Smoke.
My beautiful wife brought me here to the South West, she’s a local farmer’s daughter but it was becoming a young father that inspired me to fight for change. This is not the future I want for my son.
What I have come to understand is that Brexit is not just about our nation or the inner workings of Europe. The future of Europe is about the future of the World, a world of strong voices. A strong Europe speaks for our British values – Equality, Justice, peace, hope – and whatever the outcome of Brexit we must not weaken those voices that speak for our shared values in the World.
Brexit or no Brexit we are European people. But our people chose to leave the EU and it is not good enough to tell them they are wrong – to revoke – it’s not good enough to tell them that choosing leave means ‘any’ Brexit – at ‘any’ cost. Our families, our communities and our nation are divided. Now is the time to bring people back together, now is the time to speak not for the 48 or the 52 but for the whole nation.
And we must be united because this election isn’t even about Brexit, or Europe. We are distracted by a political crisis while a climate crisis threatens to engulf us. A climate crisis threatens to leave our children without a future.
We must act now, with bold purpose.
Only Labour has a plan to end the division and bring this country back together
Only Labour has a plan to avert the climate crisis and the means to deliver it
Only Labour can win this seat from the Tories, the Lib Dems are a far distant third
Only Labour can give you the change that you seek.”