I was very pleased to see that High Peak returned to Labour on Friday. The seat looked winnable, although a bit of a stretch, and clearly it was. The former Conservative MP, Andrew Bingham, had consistently voted for increasing restrictions on campaigning, against benefit improvements, for cuts in welfare spending, against gay rights, against measures to combat climate change, for lower fuel taxes and for a badger cull. And he was in favour of driven grouse shooting and seemed to have a blindspot about the wildlife crime against raptors occurring in his own (now ex) constituency. Let’s hope that the new Labour MP, Ruth George, takes a different approach.
After Friday’s general election results, two more seats of pro-grouse shooting MPs have come into play; Calder Valley and Carmarthen West and Pembrokeshire South.
Calder Valley almost fell to Labour last week. Its Conservative MP, Craig Whittaker, was as eager to debate issues in his constituency as Theresa May was in the country as a whole – he gained the social media hashtag of #whereswhittaker. But he did dutifully turn up to the Westminster Hall debate on driven grouse shooting to speak in favour of grouse shooting. He failed to mention the fact that this constituency was the strongest supporter in the UK of the e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting. Local opinion is strong on this issue because the floods in recent years are blamed on grouse moor management in the local area. Mr Whittaker took his lines from the grouse shooters not his constituents as a whole.
Local grouse moor owner, Richard Bannister of Walshaw Moor, Boundary Mill and Libra Textiles etc is thought to be a donor to the Conservative Party; and Libra textiles, of which he is a director, certainly is. See also here.
Mr Whittaker’s voting record is here.
Carmarthen West and Pembrokeshire South:
Carmarthen West and Pembrokeshire South is now a marginal seat – the majority is just 3000 and Labour had a surge in votes last week. It is currently held by the former chief executive and current paid consultant of the Countryside Alliance, Simon Hart.
Mr Hart’s voting record is here.
We might have another general election this year if the Tory/DUP ‘coalition’ fails or if TM the lame-duck PM loses her party even more than she has already. Both these seats received below UK-average increases in Conservative votes, and above UK-average surges in Labour votes. Both are vulnerable in the next general election.
I might have a little think about that.