Gerrard Sables, Communist general election candidate for North Devon, discusses the campaign so far and outlines some of the issues the branch will be campaigning on.
In Texas Communists are still not allowed to stand for public office. Here in Britain we have always been allowed to stand. I first stood for the Communist Party in 1979 for what was the Trinity ward of North Devon District Council. Prior to that we had supported the Labour party with precious little thanks for it. The local Labour Party’s attitude to us was one of tolerant contempt. This completely changed when we showed we could run a campaign.
This will be my twelfth contest and our local branch’s fourteenth. On May7 th I will be standing for MP and this time three of our members will be fighting for seats on Barnstaple Town Council and on North Devon District Council.
The local papers have been even-handed and I had the same coverage as the other candidates. Each week the North Devon Journal publishes replies to questions they posed a few weeks ago. I attended a hustings organised by the local branch of the Federation of Small Businesses which went rather well. This was the first time some of them had ever seen a communist which is strange because we’ve been here some time. The North Devon Gazette published an interview with me and hosted an on-line hustings. they have also put a 60 second speech by me on their site. Unfortunately the papers are not going to publish letters from candidates. We have yet to hear from the broadcasting media.
Our MP is a Liberal Democrat who went into government as Minister for the Armed Forces. He was knighted for his services and from being an anti-Tory became an advocate of the coalition’s policies. So Sir Nicholas Harvey needs to be taken down a peg or two. The Conservatives usually pick a plonker as their candidate. This time they have chosen someone who gives the impression of being reasonable and approachable. UKIP’s candidate is their chairman Steven Crowther who is kept busy dealing with his colleague’s foolish behaviour. Mark Cann is representing Labour in what is their least winnable seat. He seems to be shifting more to the left these days and mirrors Milliband. The Greens have a strong candidate in Ricky Knight whose only political handicap is a belief in the EU. He is friendly towards our party and attends our day schools.
Devon has always been near the bottom of the spending per pupil league. Food banks exist as a Coalition government phenomenon. The cuts have hurt people sometimes badly. Many villages have little access to public transport and towns like Lynton have no buses after about 5pm. There are loads of issues for us to get involved in. We need to use the election to gather a force for change.
I have answered hundreds of e-mails from 38 Degrees supporters. I hope to answer thousands as time goes on. I intend to contact these people after the election.
North Devon branch has been calling for the Party to pay more attention to elections. We are happy that our comrades in Plymouth are doing so and we wish Laura-Jane an excellent campaign.