A personal post from Graham Ellis
Lisa and Graham live in Melksham, Wiltshire, England

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Upcoming election - Chippenham Constituency - the major candidates compared

We have five candidates for MP in the Chippenham / Melksham / Bradford-on-Avon / Corsham constituency.

Standing for re-election is Duncan Hames, who has been our MP for the past five years and was very well known to us as a local councillor, as a member of the South West Regional Development Agency, and from having stood for parliament even before that election for Westbury - a seat from which elements were included into this new Chippenham constituency. Duncan was always very active locally prior to his election; I said to him "I expect to see LESS of you when elected" since he was going to be away so much of the time in Westminster, doing (I hoped) exactly what we had elected him to do. In practise, it didn't work out like that - we saw him a great deal on TV, asking many wideranging parliamentary questions, and at events locally too. We were able to approach him - and get his full and proper help too rather than just "lip service" as our previous MP was inclined towards. And - behind the scenes - he was exploring avenues and working for his electorate with a dedication and effect which has been beyond our expectations. Others aren't priveliged to the full extent of this, as much of it is highly technical, and has been done without the fanfare of publicity along the way; Duncan hasn't been one to pump up his chest and shout these things.

Quoting the main example that I have personally been involved with, Duncan Hames has at key points stepped in to ensure that the TransWilts train service from Swindon via Chippenham and Melksham to Trowbridge an beyond has been improved. Firstly, in helping us find the way through and make the case for the service and for funding via LSTF. And secondly when, having all our ducks in a line, the West Coat franchise fell apart and it was a case at the Department of Transport of "Continue unchanged all Great Western Services", which would have pushed back services beyond the funding window. I remember a pivotal visit to one of Duncan's surgeries where - in a brief session - tactics were worked out, and (critically) promises made were followed through. I also remember meeting another constituent in that waiting room, chatting with that man and learning of the huge frustrations his family were having ... I know Duncan has been very much available, I hope he was able to find a positive way forward for the chap, and I thank goodness we've had an MP who has been available for the individuals.

The Chippenham seat is a Liberal Democrat / Conservative marginal, and standing for the Conservatives is Michelle Donelan, who replaced Wilfred Emmanual-Jones as the Conservative candidate for the seat in the period after the previous election; at one point, it was anticipated that the seat would no longer exist this time around, so the hiatus / change is understandable, but never the less I would have far preferred to be re-considering Wilfred with the experience of a general election in Chippenham behind him than a candidate from "up north" who moved here upon selection. Nothing wrong with northerners (I'm one), nor with Scots - but in my view living in an area for a number of years, and/or being active in that community well prior to selection as a prospective MP - is very important indeed. Candidates may be very good indeed on the generality of things, but until they have lived and breathed towns, people and issues it's conceited of them to suggest they're properly qualified to answer such issues.

Michelle Donelan comes from a marketing background. And she has a very effective team backing her up. After a shakey start upon selection (at which time she was commuting to London for a full time job she held), Michelle has to be given huge credit for the number of visits she has made, and the number and quality of ministers and VIPs whe has brought to the area to support her. I remain somewhat concerned that it's Michelle's team who are forming and assisting with a lot of the campaign - somewhat uncharitably, I describe one of them as her "minder" and noted him in the background at a hustings where it seemed that her inexperience showed - with a well rehearsed party line trotted out where perhaps she wasn't sure of the local answer, and a couple of shocked (or mock-shock?) challenges to her opponents which I'm pretty sure were preplanned.

I've discussed with Michelle her support for the TransWilts, which I believe now to be solid although she had to learn early on (good on her for listening), and much else - I had the opportunity to spend an hour with her on the Melksham local radio show, so I got to know her rather well. I suspect that she would make an MP we could work with for the area if elected this time - and could be a good to excellent MP for us in 5 years time / after the 2020 election. But it's my view that it's likely that for the next five years if elected this time, she would be more "lobby fodder" than effective for the area. I see a party machine doing excellent marketing (and indeed overstepping the mark yesterday) in putting out a leaflet that appears to falsely claim my support for her as MP. Whether that's a mistake, or a deliberate stretching of the truth into a lie, I have no way of knowing - but in either case it's a serious worry if that's the way of the upcoming years. Tragedy is - her team's damned good at marketing. But we need a do-er and understander of complex issues, and at present that's not quite so clear to me.

You'll note nothing above on party policy. I would probably agree with the Conservative approach more than the Liberal Democrat one, but in practise I've been very happy to have a Coalition that's rounded the sharpest / most extreme edges off both parties. I congratulate them on working together for the whole parliament, and would like to see a similar scenario for the next parliament. It strikes me that achieving 20% of your target policies if you're 20% of government, and 80% if you're the 80% is good going. And for this balance to work for us again, we should elect Duncan Hames as our next MP this tie around. Seeing how it goes, it may be different next time.

Footnote ... I'm conscious that there are five candidates in our constituency. For UKIP, I spend quite some time with Julia Reid some 8 to 10 years ago; she's lived in Calne - very nearby - for many years, and was fairly well informed and surprisingly impressive at the time. But I think her party politics have gotten in the way, and I was very disappointed in her poor showing at the hustings. Both the Labour and (especially) the Green candidate really were impressive at the hustings though I have severe issues with some of the Labour policies, and indeed with Green transport policies which locally would be in danger of breaking what we've worked so hard for to reform it into a different system. On that latter, I think we have now reached the point where a break wouldn't leave the TransWilts train-les again.

Only the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats realistically have a chance in Chippenham as I write (but a week is a long time in politics). And the majority that one gets over the other is likely to be thin - very much thinner than the number of votes cast for the other parties. So I'm suggesting that any undecided readers who happen to read this should consider tactical voting. There's a lot of rubbish spoken about our constituency letting in Labour if it goes one way - but whichever of the frontrunners wins, we won't be Labour represented; that rubbish is designed to frighten you into voting for Michelle. Please take a look at policies, take a look at the people, take a look at their local and national experience, and make a wise decision accordingly.

Views expressed here are personal ones and don't necessarily represent any organisation with which I have a role. Hustings referred to are Melksham Town Hall ones.
(written 2015-04-29)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
Z950 - Purely Personal
  [1014] Christmas Season Piccies - (2006-12-30)
  [1051] Too busy to blog it - but it's great (mostly) - (2007-01-24)
  [2195] A two day gap - first time in five years? - (2009-05-24)
  [2547] The great thing about snow .... - (2009-12-23)
  [2698] Ruth Davis, 1916 - 2010 - (2010-03-28)
  [2886] Congratulations, Kimberly - (2010-07-25)
  [2982] Travel, Transport and Tourism - A vision for Melksham, 2026 - (2010-10-03)
  [3034] Birth Notice - Aeryn Cassandra Ellis - (2010-11-07)
  [3037] Looking back and forward personally - 6 years each way - (2010-11-08)
  [3055] Zyliana Kyrei Cox - (2010-11-16)
  [3108] My First Christmas - (2010-12-26)
  [3224] Melksham Campus - a win / win opportunity, but a severely lacking decision process - (2011-03-31)
  [3240] Melksham Town Council - vacancy in the Spa Ward - (2011-04-10)
  [3283] The juggler - (2011-05-08)
  [3298] Quiet Monday in - (2011-05-23)
  [3413] If its Sunday, must it be Weymouth? - (2011-08-30)
  [3450] A threat in the post? Poor marketing practise from Smiletrain? - (2011-09-19)
  [3511] Melksham has a heart - have your picture taken and support the defibrillator appeal - (2011-11-06)
  [3556] Aeryn at 1 - (2011-12-19)
  [3566] Initial thoughts - response to GW Rail Franchise Consultation for Wiltshire - (2011-12-31)
  [3602] Emerging proposals for land to the east of Spa Road, Melksham - (2012-02-03)
  [3711] Kiss - (2012-04-28)
  [3905] How should we choose our Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner? - (2012-10-27)
  [4111] Zigzag bus - forward for the future, or decaying service? - (2013-06-09)
  [4157] Wedding Photos - Kim Ellis to Kyle Londors, 22nd August 2013 - (2013-08-23)
  [4165] Improving travel advise information in Wiltshire - (2013-09-06)
  [4187] Not treading water, but not risking the ship for a 0.5th of tar either - (2013-10-06)
  [4201] Looking to the future at Melksham Station - (2013-10-26)
  [4221] Celebration of the fruits of LSTF, and of the people who have helped and are helping - (2013-12-15)
  [4235] Sharing my personal best of 2013 - (2013-12-31)
  [4275] Eurpoean Elections, and other elections ahead. Some thoughts on campaigns and policies - (2014-05-08)
  [4281] A different vision for the future - (2014-07-09)
  [4286] Reaction in Radstock to new First bus prices - (2014-07-12)
  [4308] What can you and I learn from online quizzes? - (2014-09-27)
  [4485] Misusing statistics? - the seedy side of election campaigning - (2015-05-04)
  [4489] Election results - what if we had a party list system? - (2015-05-08)
  [4600] A big change in August - (2015-12-25)
  [4625] Where does Wiltshire bus subsidy money come from? - (2016-01-19)
  [4657] Rumours of bus changes by First in Wiltshire - what we know and suspect - (2016-03-01)
  [4658] The end of competition on a bus route - the effects from then end of the 234 - (2016-03-02)
  [4669] Buses - how did we get into the situation we are in? - (2016-04-02)
  [4698] Lisa writes - on the referendum vote today - (2016-06-23)
  [4714] The technical article feed continues - personal updates more proactive on Facebook now! - (2016-10-30)
  [4728] Visiting Los Alamitos Bay Yacht Club - (2016-11-23)
  [4734] Thoughts on the new Blackmore Ward of Melksham Without Parish - (2017-02-22)
  [4735] Revisiting - should I stand for Melksham Without Parish Council in May? - (2017-02-24)
  [4737] Why you should vote for Lisa in Melksham Central - (2017-05-01)
  [4739] A year of changes for Lisa and Graham Ellis, and Well House - (2017-05-27)
  [4756] Learning how to be a more effective community partner - (2017-07-15)
  [4759] Sale of effects and furniture - 12th and 13th August 2017 - (2017-07-25)
  [4761] Looking forward to the autumn. - (2017-08-19)
  [4767] Some thoughts on 2017, and looking forward to 2018 - (2017-12-31)

Z300 - Politics and Religion
  [216] Cheap purchase - votes paid for with selfish promises - (2005-02-15)
  [257] Politics gets nasty. Must be an election coming up. - (2005-03-25)
  [280] Spotted - the local MP - (2005-04-15)
  [289] MP for Devizes, Wiltshire - (2005-04-23)
  [301] General Election day, UK - (2005-05-05)
  [313] Making bona fide international marriages more difficult - (2005-05-16)
  [326] UK Tax payment totals and where the money is spent - (2005-05-27)
  [335] Sad priorities - (2005-06-03)
  [377] A Strengthened City - (2005-07-14)
  [384] Managing conflict and disappointment - (2005-07-20)
  [415] Campaign Drift and efficiency. - (2005-08-15)
  [469] Yesterday was Kiss and Ride - (2005-10-19)
  [505] Would you steal ... petrol? ... a training course? - (2005-11-26)
  [539] rich and famous - (2005-12-23)
  [602] MP face to face - (2006-02-12)
  [607] On being British - (2006-02-14)
  [671] Both ends of the animal - (2006-04-05)
  [674] Wiltshire to get an extra MP - (2006-04-07)
  [682] Iran has enriched uranium ... - (2006-04-12)
  [696] Is than an uphill or downhill task? - (2006-04-23)
  [750] Almost everyone loses - (2006-06-07)
  [780] Separation and Integration - (2006-06-27)
  [875] Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones - (2006-09-22)
  [967] Realistic on line shoot'em up - (2006-12-05)
  [1003] Room at the Inn, Guy at the station - (2006-12-21)
  [1060] What a relief from the tax office. - (2007-02-01)
  [1109] False imprisonment - a contrast from the news - (2007-03-15)
  [1135] Government pressure on me to shut up after I make the papers - (2007-04-05)
  [1175] Local elections - choosing who to vote for - (2007-05-03)
  [1247] An afternoon at a public enquiry - (2007-06-27)
  [1260] An inspirational business talk from one of our prospective MPs - (2007-07-06)
  [1350] FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) Western Region - (2007-09-13)
  [1386] New software product for warmblooded programmers - (2007-10-10)
  [1428] Travel Across Wiltshire - the game - (2007-11-11)
  [1526] Carers at work - court case changes - (2008-02-01)
  [1573] Budget tax increases hit vehicle market - (2008-03-14)
  [1579] Rome, and the faith of Rome - (2008-03-17)
  [1729] Back from the future - (2008-07-30)
  [1769] July child ponders on August children - (2008-08-23)
  [1872] Barack Obama wins US Predidency - (2008-11-05)
  [1881] Wiltshire Council says - part 1 - (2008-11-13)
  [1882] Wiltshire Council says - part 2 - (2008-11-14)
  [1987] One Cheer for Local Democracy - Asda in Melksham - (2009-01-11)
  [2012] The Wiltshire Police - (2009-01-29)
  [2028] Things people say on the phone - (2009-02-06)
  [2075] Supporting Parkinsons and Trains - (2009-03-11)
  [2178] Melksham Candidates for Wiltshire Unitary Election - (2009-05-12)
  [2206] Spot the odd one out - (2009-05-29)
  [2257] Ramblings on church and state linkage in Melksham - (2009-06-25)
  [2270] Wiltshire - a chance to improve life for everybody - (2009-07-05)
  [2279] Understanding the new local government structure in Wiltshire - (2009-07-11)
  [2288] Wiltshire Community Area Partnerships - (2009-07-15)
  [2353] All change - Wiltshire Parliamentary - (2009-08-13)
  [2640] How is your tax pound spent? - (2010-02-18)
  [2689] Can my dog eat potatoes? Doggie Dietary Research, and political sleaze! - (2010-03-23)
  [2712] A more informed decision than ever before - (2010-04-08)
  [2740] Melksham Hustings at George Ward School - (2010-04-26)
  [2752] Voting day - UK General Election - (2010-05-06)
  [2757] Bodicea, Lincoln, and our new MP - (2010-05-09)
  [2792] Should Government compete with private industry? - (2010-06-03)
  [2824] A pint of Black Rat, and a lazy barman - (2010-06-25)
  [2856] Two sides of the coin - (2010-07-06)
  [2864] Changing with weather and seasons - (2010-07-10)
  [2870] Old prices - what would the equivalent price have been in 1966? - (2010-07-14)
  [2948] Melksham shamefully makes the national headlines - (2010-09-07)
  [2971] Should the public sector compete with businesses? and other deep questions - (2010-09-26)
  [3051] Positively reforming the system - could it be done? - (2010-11-14)
  [3264] Alternative Vote (AV) - explaining and an example - (2011-04-25)
  [3313] What does our MP do on a Bank Holiday? - (2011-05-30)
  [3323] Is Melksham town centre dying? - (2011-06-11)
  [3325] The Olympic Torch, and Melksham House - (2011-06-14)
  [3438] Melksham to become a part of Trowbridge? - (2011-09-13)
  [3592] Are we one man, one vote? No, and we never have been. - (2012-01-26)
  [3676] Rising prices, changing habits and society - (2012-03-31)
  [3806] 2011 Census results - initial figures for Wiltshire. - (2012-07-17)
  [3845] Good cause giving - getting the charity beggars off the street - (2012-08-21)
  [3921] On rememberance, on war, and on preventing the war cycle - (2012-11-11)
  [4079] Melksham Area - Unitary Council results, May 2013 - (2013-05-04)
  [4223] Democracy - alive and well with the beauty pagent starting up again - (2013-12-16)
  [4343] Politics and the railway the connects Wiltshire - (2014-12-06)
  [4354] Wiltshire Police - assuming someone is guilty just on the say-so of a member of the public? - (2014-12-16)
  [4548] Melksham - two small townships, or one big one? - (2015-10-22)
  [4597] Not standing as your local councillor - (2015-12-18)
  [4614] PC Plod - alive and scaremongering in Wiltshire? - (2016-01-04)
  [4720] Celebrating our diversity rather than discriminating for it - (2016-11-02)
  [4725] Writing Python 2 such that Python 3 is easy - (2016-11-06)
  [4729] The oldest part of Los Angeles - (2016-11-23)


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Home in Melksham to Gatwick Airport - easy by public transport
Yesterday - off on leg one of our holiday
Upcoming election - Chippenham Constituency - the major candidates compared
New car park at Melksham Station - ideal for commuters from Seend, Hilperton, Yarnbrook and Holt
Effect on external factors on traffic to our web sites - an update
Fishguard to Melksham - third part of Dublin journey
Rosslare to Fishguard - foot passenger on the ferry
Leopardstown to Rosslare by train
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