We are not asking the parties to stand down if unsuccessful. Once we have a South Devon Primary winner, the losing candidates can remain on the ballot paper, but we don't expect the losing parties to fund any serious campaign. This is similar to what happened in the Tiverton & Honiton by-election where there was general acceptance that the Lib Dem was the best placed candidate, and in Wakefield where the Labour candidate was the clear choice. By uniting behind a single candidate the Conservative majority was overturned.
No. The winning candidate will stand for their own party as normal.
The Green and Lib Dem candidates (Robert Bagnall and Caroline Voaden) have confirmed they'll be attending. Labour do not yet have a candidate and have indicated they won’t be taking part. Our invitation to their candidate-to-be remains open. We will be holding a space on the platform for them, and we really hope that, with so much support behind this plan to end 100 years of Conservative MPs, they will be there to speak to voters.
In the unfortunate event that the Labour candidate is not able to participate, the Primary ballot paper will include the option “Labour - candidate TBC”. It would be a great shame for voters not to have the chance to hear from Labour. But we must remain focused on the key goal here, which is to unite the progressive vote around a single candidate, and to make that process as fair and transparent as we possibly can. After careful deliberation, and consultation with the other two candidates, we think that means giving supporters of all three parties the fullest opportunity we can to express their choice.
Last spring, we were planning to schedule the town hall Q&As for late autumn 2023. But in response to the lack of a Labour candidate, we decided to delay the events until the latest possible time whilst still allowing for a May election. This had to be done a long way ahead in order to ensure hall availability. That process was finalised last October, and we consulted with all three parties fully at every step.
Within 5 weeks of an election, additional strict electoral spending rules apply, and we would be prohibited from paying for all the town hall hire costs within that period. So we had to ensure that our events were all scheduled for more than 5 weeks before a possible early May election. The dates finally booked were in the very latest possible two-week block.
Absolutely! We expect losing candidates to remain on the ballot paper, but with clarity on who everyone is getting behind. It’s actually more democratic - because for the first time in generations, there’ll be a real chance of change!
Our First-Past-The-Post voting system discourages co-operation, and breeds tribalism, short-termism and complacency. The only other country in Europe that fully uses our system is Belarus, Russia's ally in Ukraine.
We are totally independent from all the political parties. Our costs are almost entirely time, and we all work as unpaid volunteers. This is a community-led, grassroots effort.
After the Q&A finishes and the candidates depart, we will open voting. Each person will be given a voting slip and asked to rank the 3 candidates in order of preference, in secret. Votes will be counted only after the final event on 16th March, and the winner determined using the Alternative Vote method (known as Instant Runoff Voting in the USA). The democracy organisation Make Votes Matter advised us that this is fairest method of selecting a single candidate.
South Devon Primary is designed to unite the voting power of a group of people who can coalesce around a set of shared values. Whilst there are of course differences between Green, Labour and Lib Dem, there is so much more that unites us that divides us, and a gulf between these progressive parties and the Conservatives / Reform. If we included Reform, why not the Conservatives? Then all we’d be doing is running the general election.
Reform is arguably to the right of the Conservatives, with policies which include putting wealthy donors and big polluters ahead of people and planet. Perhaps Reform and the Conservatives ought to get together to run a Primary of their own?
We consider the Primary to be necessary because our dated first past the post voting system just doesn’t work in a multi-party world, giving an appallingly unfair advantage to the Conservatives simply because the opposition is divided.
No. Our aim is to replace the Conservative MP with whichever of the progressive candidates that the majority of people attending the Town Hall Q&As thinks is best-placed to win the seat. The public will choose the candidate in a secret ballot, overseen by party officials. An important feature of the Primary is that candidates will be asked questions by the public and will have to make commitments in order to win people's votes. We will record those commitments, list them on our website, and make video clips available, so that we can hold our new MP to account.
Definitely not. It takes a lot to overturn a large Conservative majority, and the parties are starting work now. So please go out and help your favourite party. Once the People's Champion is chosen, you can pivot towards helping them. In the meantime, all three progressive parties are working with the very similar goal of shining a light on this Government's appalling track record. Democracy is a continual process, and to work, it needs your help.
We hear this from all sides every election time. Yet the Tory MP is still polling to win. Einstein defined insanity as ‘doing the same thing over & over and expecting a different result’. We sincerely hope that this is the last election under the current FPTP system, but for now, the only way to avoid an unfair result is to choose a single progressive candidate in order to avoid the vote being split and handing victory to the Conservatives.
We are in touch with these organisations via https://themovementforward.com and will be keeping them updated on our progress. The South Devon Primary is, in a way, like a highly informed tactical voting exercise. People will be voting tactically for the people's choice, but based on a far more comprehensive data set than used by these national sites. We have been informed that the tactical voting sites are very likely to use our results to produce their advice. So in short, we are confident we will be fully aligned.
We are conducting the South Devon Primary because our voting system is deeply unfair. The latest election predictions show the Conservatives winning in South Devon on little more than a third of the votes - simply because the opposition is fragmented. We have seen Conservative MPs elected in this seat for 100 years despite the majority of us not being Tory supporters. With such a foregone conclusion it's not surprising that as many as a quarter of registered voters here didn't bother voting last election.
By giving people the opportunity to unite behind a single opposition candidate whom they have chosen, the South Devon Primary will in fact enhance democracy, offering a genuine chance for change for the first time in a century.
The local Conservative MP made the following statement for an article about the South Devon Primary in www.SouthHams.com: “It is disappointing to see a group of people attempting to restrict democracy across South Devon by denying residents a wide field of candidates. While I applaud anyone for getting more involved in the democratic process, I think this campaign might be at odds with the wants and needs of South Devon residents."
Everyone registered to vote in the new South Devon constituency can attend, and vote at, one Town Hall Q&A event. More info in our Town Hall page in "Info". In order to ensure fairness, we can only issue a ticket to people registered to vote in this constituency. But there's still time to register - please see our Register page for guidance. The electoral roll is updated once a month. We will be able to accept a ticket booking from you once you are listed on the electoral roll.
We are not expecting this scenario to arise. With the country facing incredibly tough times, South Devon Primary will be a very valuable forum for the candidates to hear about the issues that matter to people across the constituency. The Primary will give opposition parties a fantastic opportunity to get their message across well ahead of the election, and we expect candidates to be keen to engage.
The Primary process is designed to platform candidates from the Greens, Labour and the Lib Dems. In the rare case that a progressive independent candidate were to be a serious contender in a constituency, with a proven electoral track record, then we would consider platforming them if circumstances were right. We would have to be confident that any inclusion of an independent would not lead to further fragmentation of the progressive vote.
We are sure that he takes his constituency responsibilities seriously, and he seems willing to help. The problem is that he is part of a Government which is looking out for wealthy donors and oil companies. Even if he wanted to stand up to them, he cannot. That's because he is now a PPS (Parliamentary Private Secretary) the first rung on the ministerial ladder. PPS's are required to vote every time with the Government, and are barred from speaking out against Government policy. If they break this rule, they lose their job.
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