The lies and deceit of a retired Army Colonel and MP are the reason why in 10 days time, voters will be obliged to vote for a replacement MP for the Constituency of Newark, placed to the East of the city of Nottingham. In Spring 2013 Patrick Mercer was caught by undercover reporters offering to ask questions and bring Parliamentary attention to bear on issues suggested by the undercover reporters, all based on the money they were prepared to pay him. Instead of honourably resigning as an MP, Colonel Mercer fought on as I have written previously, resigning only his party membership, but when a year later a committee of Parliamentary colleagues pathetically decided they were finally going to suspend him from the Commons for six months he chose to resign as an MP and provoke a by-election calling for voters in his constituency to back the new Conservative Party candidate! Perhaps the voters in Newark will instead treat the Conservative Party and the other main parties in a similar way to which they have treated them for a year. They have at least two credible alternatives:
Paul Baggaley is the secretary of the Say Yes to Newark Hospital Campaign and he is also a member of the Newark Sports Association and a Newark town councillor who has said he wants to provide people with a candidate who will stand up on local issues. He said his five priorities would be local education, Newark Hospital, sports facilities, parliamentary standards and democratic accountability.
Andy Hayes describes himself as a wheelchair user, with multiple neurological impairments, and neuro-diverse. He writes I believe we should all have equal opportunity to participate in and with society, and in the decision-making processes that design our society. I will be campaigning for the following and hope that these issues will be taken seriously and debated seriously:
- Access to appropriate housing, based on individual needs.
- Access to education that will meet the individual child’s needs.
- Access to appropriate local and regional health services.
- Access to appropriate support services, to enable disabled people, the elderly, and those in short-term need of help, to live independently and in control of their own lives.
- Access to the decision-makers and designers of society, locally, regionally and nationally, to enable us all to contribute and participate in this process.
- Access to environment-friendly, local and national transport systems, that will meet our needs into the future.
- Access to the green energy resources that will take our society safely and sustainably into the future.
- Access to service suppliers, and access to vital services without the complex paper trail that excludes many members of our society from accessing services.
It is probable that both Andy and Paul, despite being local, unlike the main party candidates will lack the resources that large well funded parties will throw at the contest. However perhaps the people of Newark will recall what happens when the votes follow the money! It is clear from twitter that all of the main parties are sending teams of people from all over the country to knock on doors and deliver leaflets in support of their candidates who are also from outside of the area. These fine men and women will all disappear again as soon as the votes have been cast, leaving Newark to look after itself!
Elsewhere in the Westminster Village 16 MPs including Caroline Lucas MP have signed a letter in todays Telegraph calling for an effective recall system to be established, rather than the supine version that the Government has in mind. Let us hope that they are successful although some of them are on the record as demanding unrealistically high levels of signatures to trigger a recall. I wrote down my own views on this here back in February and if like me you support the idea of an effective recall arrangement, you could consider signing this 38 degrees petition.