by David Watts on 8 December, 2019
We are now just a few days away from the end of this election campaign. This is the 3rd time that I’ve stood in Newark and this election has been like no other that I’ve ever been involved in. Even now, just days from the vote, lots of people are telling me that they are undecided. However, lots of other people have told me that they are either lifelong Conservative or lifelong Labour voters, but they are voting for me this time.
There are two reasons why Conservative voters told me they are switching to me. The first is that they think Brexit will be a complete disaster and they are impressed with the Liberal Democrat opposition to this, the second is that they just don’t like or trust Boris Johnson. For Labour voters time and again the issue seems to be the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. My pledge to you all if I am elected as this. I don’t promise that I will never make mistakes. I do promise that I will never lie to you. We really do need to rebuild trust in politics, and if elected that is something I will work very hard to do. (If I’m not elected and still work hard to do it but obviously that will need to be on a different level.)
I counted up today and I’ve received emails asking me to pledge to support 38 different campaigns or viewpoints. Overall the number of emails run into several hundred. Some of the things that have been highlighted have been very easy. I’ve always supported a fairer voting system so it was easy to pledge to support PR. I was disappointed that the Fair Votes campaign reported this week that neither Labour nor the Green candidate had responded to their emails. I was also disappointed that Robert Jenrick responded saying that he thought first past the post was a perfectly good system. I suspect when you’re in a safe seat you don’t want anything to change, but I’m doing my best to make sure this is no longer a safe seat.
Other emails have been harder to support. There are a number that I generally agree with but they contradict each other. I’ve had people concerned with a whole range of medical issues asking me to pledge to make that the number one priority after the election. We can’t all be the number one, but I have given the general pledge that I will always work to make sure there is proper funding for the NHS, and I do not want to see any part of it sold off or privatised. Others have been issues where different people are asking me to pledge to support things which are diametrically opposed to each other. For instance, I’ve had people asking me to support the decriminalisation of assisted dying and also to oppose the decriminalisation of assisted dying. Clearly I can’t do both. What I have explained in that particular case to everyone who’s contacted me is that I think there should be an independent Parliamentary enquiry looking at all the facts. I know we see a lot of emotive cases in the media, but generally hard cases make bad laws, and so I support a dispassionate look at all of the evidence, so that people can then make an informed decision on their votes. I appreciate that this is probably not what either side of that particular debate wanted me to say, but it is what I genuinely believe and, as I said earlier, I want to be honest with people.
There have been a couple of hustings in the last week. The first was on Monday in Newark, organised by the Newark Advertiser. All the candidates were present for that. I think that Robert Jenrick was probably taken aback by the lack of support he was receiving. On the other hand I was, I have to say, extremely pleased with the support that there was for the Lib Dems. After this on Tuesday we had a hustings at the Brackenhurst campus of Nottingham Trent University. The Conservatives did not attend this one, even though they’d been told that if Robert himself wasn’t available they could send a substitute. As a result there was a very pleasant discussion between the other three candidates, as we fielded questions from the students for 2 hours. I was delighted with the level of interest that there was in the event, and indeed there were many more questions that could have been taken that we didn’t have time for. I was able to stay and chat to people for a good half hour afterwards, and was fielding questions throughout this time.
Earlier on Tuesday I had held a meeting with the National Farmers Union. They organise these for each candidate in each election. The previous times I have studied Newark there have been 3 or 4 people who attended these meetings. This time there were 16. I think that illustrates the change in opinion is that the farming community has had over the last few years. There were a wide range of questions on different aspects of farming and the countryside, and one of the strongest points that the farmers made was that a no deal Brexit would be an absolute disaster for them and probably put many of them out of business. This reaffirms what I’ve been told by other farmers previously.
Finally this week I took part in a debate on BBC One’s Sunday Politics earlier today. There were representatives from the Conservatives, Labour and the Brexit Party as well as myself, with the Green Party providing a video clip. If anyone missed it you will be able to download this from the BBC iPlayer.
Thank you for all the support that people have given is during this campaign. I’m looking forward to Thursday and I hope everyone will turn out to vote.2 Comments