Parachuting and political parties in Cornwall

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED APR 26, 2013

The nomination lists for these elections allow us to check the addresses of the candidates. Rather amazingly, I find that only just over half the candidates (50.7% to be precise) have an address in the wards they’re standing in. Even if we include those who live in a different ward but in the same town, 30% of candidates still live outside their chosen wards in rural areas or outside the town in urban areas.

Being a local candidate and resident in a parliamentary constituency is not that significant these days, amounting to a bonus of up to 1,000 votes according to some studies. Call me old-fashioned however, but I would have thought it still carried some weight at local elections where the role of a councillor is much more akin to that of parish priest or social worker. Of course, some candidates may work or have a business connection (or even a second home) in wards distant from their home. But this can’t possibly account for as many as one in three.

Even more incredibly, I count 86 candidates, or nearly one in five of the total, whose address is more than one ward distant from where they’re nominated. The proportion of candidates who aren’t even standing in their neighbouring wards varies considerably across the parties.

Independents are very unlikely to live far from their ward. There are also few MK or Green Party candidates who do so, although the Green candidate in Ludgvan apparently lives many miles away in Redruth. Tory and Lib Dem candidates are about twice as likely as MK or Green Party people to live well away from their wards.

Coming soon to a ward near you
Coming soon to a ward near you

But the most spectacular examples of parachuting into a ward far from one’s home are supplied by Labour and Ukip. Around one in three of all the candidates of these two parties live more than one ward away from where they’re trying to get elected. For example, we have Labour candidates from Truro standing in Probus, Roseland and St Agnes, one with a Redruth address pops up in Newlyn East, while one from Falmouth stands in Truro.

At St Keverne, the Labour candidate has an address miles away in Penzance. And in the same ward the Ukip candidate’s home address is Breage. Ukip has a clutch of candidates from Hayle standing in Camborne-Redruth, two from Lostwithiel standing at Liskeard and one who seems to live in Bude standing in Bodmin! Indeed, each of these minority parties is geographically very concentrated. Sixteen Labour candidates (or nearly a quarter of their total) live in Camborne, Pool and Redruth and another nine in Falmouth. For Ukip 16 live in Hayle, Gwinear-Gwithian and Ludgvan, with Lostwithiel providing another hotspot.

Moreover, I spot several cases where candidates share the same address. This applies to at least six pairs of Ukip candidates plus two sets of Tory and Lib Dem couples. Again, there are at least five braces of Labour candidates with the same address and even one address in Camborne supplying three candidates. What’s going on here? Are all these candidates genuine? Or is this level of parachuting and shared addresses an indication that these are paper candidates not seriously contesting these seats, as Labour and Ukip sacrifice quality for quantity?

We can glean some insight on the less than rigid process adopted by Ukip at least in vetting its candidates. Sue Bowen, former BNP member, became a member of Ukip in March and was a candidate at Tintagel a few weeks later. She’s now been disowned by the local party, which claimed that it was under pressure from Ukip in London to put forward as many candidates as possible. Back in 1998 Bowen had stood for MK, which had blown the whistle on her by informing Ukip of her dodgy past. This episode might suggest that all parties need to be careful about who they accept as candidates.he real election issues – cuts, construction, Cornish devolution and carbon costs

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