We are not asking the parties to commit to standing their candidate down if unsuccessful. Once we have a South Devon Primary winner, the losing candidates can remain on the ballot paper, but we will ask the losing parties to respect the people's choice and not to engage in campaigning. 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. In both cases, the other parties disengaged and focused their efforts on other seats, and in both cases the opposition candidate won with a huge vote swing.
Once there is a winning candidate, we will be asking volunteers from all the opposition parties to get behind that person - for the greater good.
We are in touch with these organisations via www.movementforward.org 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. On latest polling, Mr Mangnall would win 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.
Mr Mangnall 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."
We are in communication with the local opposition parties, and fully expect them to participate. We believe the opposition parties see this as a big opportunity. We have committed to proceeding with the Primary as a ground-up voter-led initiative - rather than something driven by the parties. There has been a huge level of interest so far, and the more people that get involved, the keener the parties will be to participate.
It may be some months before Labour choose a candidate. We are uncertain whether the Greens will stand a candidate in this seat. The Q&A sessions will take place as soon as possible after both of these candidates are in place - or after the Labour candidate selection if the Greens decide not to stand here.
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 will have a fantastic opportunity to get their message across well ahead of the election, and we expect candidates to be keen to engage.