New group wants a ‘progressive’ MP

East Wight Primary founders Julie Hutchison and Charity Garnett

A new campaign group wants to unite Island voters to support a ‘progressive candidate’ to ensure the Conservatives do not win the new East Wight parliamentary seat.

East Wight Primary, inspired by a similar group in South Devon, plan to hold a series of Q&A sessions across the constituency, giving people the chance to hear and question Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green Party candidates and cast a vote for the one they think will make the best MP. At the end of the process the votes will be counted and the winner declared the ‘People’s Champion’. Voters who do not want a Conservative MP will be encouraged to put aside differences and party loyalties and support the candidate in the General Election, which must be held by January 2025.

The group hopes their plans will ‘breathe life back into democracy’, claiming the first-past-the-post electoral system means most voters are unrepresented, so they need to come together to beat the Tory vote.

Co-founder, Charity Garnett, said: “Progressive policies are consistently shown to be popular in polls, but many choose not to vote as they know it won’t count. We know by working together we can help create some urgently needed change. We will either win as one or all lose if the progressive vote is divided again.”

Conservative candidate for the East Wight, Joe Robertson was unsurprisingly not impressed by the scheme. He said: “I agree that Labour, Greens and the Liberal Democrats seem to amount to pretty much the same thing but it doesn’t seem very progressive or good for democracy to be campaigning to reduce voter choice at the next election.”

However, Charity explained: “We are not restricting democracy by asking any candidate to stand down. We are simply trying to bring people together to elect an MP that will stand up for the NHS after 13 years of cuts and increasing chaos, address wealth inequality and take climate breakdown seriously.”

The public Q&As are planned for early March, and until then the group will be engaging with voters. They would be happy to work with anybody who wanted to set up a similar group for the West Wight constituency, where Bob Seely has been selected to stand for the Tories.

People who want to find out more should go to iow.life/ewprimary or East Wight Primary social media accounts.
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