On Your Side

Today, I announce the launch of my campaign to become the MP for Taunton Deane.

Why am I standing? I am standing to give local people a real choice. A majority of voters opted for Jeremy Browne last time around and have been disappointed that he voted to treble tuition fees, breaking his party’s promise, and that he voted for other damaging legislation such as the rules that allow the Health Secretary to close hospitals with scant regard to local opinion. None of this does anything for us, the people who live in Taunton Deane.

What we need is someone free to speak up for our area without party interference. That’s why I’m standing as an Independent. Think of me as the “Taunton Deane First” candidate.

Many local people have approached me with comments along the lines of “Mike, we don’t know how to vote next year. You have a great record as an effective Independent Councillor, so will you consider standing?”

The long established model is broken, with the old stranglehold of the two party system fading before our eyes and If you thought voting Lib Dem was a good idea in 2010, what are you thinking now? It’s silly to claim that everything done by the three main Westminster parties has been wrong, but what is wrong with their policies, is that Party interests come first and the interests of local people – us – come a poor second.

I’ve lived in and around Taunton for over 20 years and feel a strong affinity with the Taunton area and have been dismayed at the relative decline in the town’s commercial fortunes. Taunton is the County town of Somerset and needs fresh leadership for a vibrant 21st century future that ensures prosperity, jobs and trade. That is why I became a founder member of Taunton Forward, a collection of businesspeople looking to put Taunton at the heart of our region for business, shopping, tourism, the arts and entertainment.

I intend to put Taunton Deane first, free from party orders. Did you know that along with Jeremy Browne, not one Somerset MP, Conservative or Liberal Democrat, voted to bring Government funding for Somerset up to the same as that given to urban areas? Again, party orders prevented them. That’s no good. We need a fresh approach, a Member of Parliament elected solely to put the interests of the people of Taunton Deane first rather than someone who will be whipped into voting along party lines.

Winning in Taunton Deane will not be easy but with the help of my team and local people, I believe it is possible. The Conservatives are polling at their lowest numbers in decades as are the Liberal Democrats and neither the Greens, UKIP or Labour are going to win here; even they’ll admit that. I believe that this is a reflection of the deep distrust in party politics that has grown up over the last 10 years.

Martin Bell and Dr Richard Taylor are both shining examples of what motivated, Independent MPs can achieve for their constituencies, their counties and for this Country. They were free from the corrupting influence of lobbyists and the sleaze that has dogged party politics for too many years.

As an independent County Councillor I was surprised that the Conservative administration at County Hall wanted to close the library in my village, slash funding for our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, sell off the West Somerset Railway and close a local Children’s Centre. Being independent meant that I was able to campaign, successfully, against all of these. I also pressed successfully for the early installation of superfast broadband for my County Council constituency.

It’s all about holding the executive to account and getting the best deal for the people I represent, putting Taunton Deane first. I have a particular set of skills well-suited to this task and firmly believe that I can apply these for the benefit of the wider constituency as I have my current electoral area. Taunton needs a Champion.

Keep checking back here for details of what I’m up to or follow the links above to my Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Somerset Conservative Leader Misleads the Council

November 21st, 2014

After the previous meeting of Somerset County Council on 22 October, I wrote an open letter to John Osman pointing out that almost everything he said in his 8 minute statement about the post of Director of Children’s Services was untrue. You can read my letter here. John has sent me a reply in which he employs his usual tactic of failing to address the questions put to him and instead answers something completely different. You can read it here.. So to summarise, John Osman misled the Council by stating that Eric Pickles made his criticism of Somerset County Council without the full facts. That may or may not have been the case when Pickles spoke in the House of Commons but it is certainly not true when Pickles subsequently levelled the same criticism at SCC in the Sunday Times. John has no response at all on the fact that he misled the Council on the issue of insurance so I think we can take it that he accepts that. Also no comment regarding his silly criticism that Tessa Munt MP is not tabling a private member’s bill in The Commons to deal with pay arrangements for temporary council staff. She has not even been drawn in the ballot that decides which MPs can do that.

So, no apology from John and his Conservative buddies for presiding over such a shambles in Somerset’s Children’s Services or for misleading the Council about that shambles. And let’s not forget, these are the very people in whom prospective Conservative MP for Taunton Deane, Rebecca Pow, has recently expressed her confidence.