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Wiggin - OUT!!! PDF Print E-mail
Written by A. Cyclist   
Friday, 05 July 2024 11:42

aka. Herefordshire’s now Green and (hopefully will remain) pleasant land.

On the NHS’s 76th birthday, Dr. Ellie Chowns has abruptly ended ‘Sir’ Bill Wiggin’s 23-year tenure (similar to Hurricane Beryl’s effect on the base of two of his hedge funds), and over a century of ‘the Blues’.  Can we now hope for a better deal for North Herefordshire?  Our rural county must not succumb to a threatened ‘Starmergeddon’ coverage with significantly more unwanted housing.  A Labour government under Clement Attlee initiated the first Green Belt just after WWII.  Now that same party has declared its intention to build on it...

There is no doubt a large number of people voted tactically here, aided by an extremely concerted leafletting programme by the Greens (we sincerely hope all these, and those of the other parties, are recycled)...  Judging by the number of Green posters in Ledbury and elsewhere in the constituency in the weeks leading up to the election (this cyclist didn’t see anything from any other party in the area), they certainly drummed up some considerable support.  Greens, Lib. Dems. and Labour all claimed to be in second place to Mr. Wiggin and that a vote for any other party was effectively wasted.  However, the results were remarkable (source: Wikipædia):

  2024 votes 2019 votes
  No. %age No. %age
  Green Ellie Chowns 21736 43.2%  4769  9.3%
  Conservative Bill Wiggin 15842 31.5% 32158 63.0%
  Reform UK Andy Dye  8048 16.0%  -  -
  Labour Jon Browning *  3205  6.4%  6804 13.3%
  Liberal Democrat Cat Hornsey *  1436  2.9%  7302 14.3%
  Social Democratic Party Michael Guest   95  0.2%  -  -
  Majority    5894 11.7% 24856 48.7%
  Turnout   71.7%   72.6%
* The Labour and Lib. Dem. candidates in 2019 were Joe Wood and Phillip Howells respectively.

The Greens’ persistence has certainly paid off - they won all 4 of their heavily targetted seats, these being North Herefordshire, Waveney Valley (Suffolk - gain from Conservative), Bristol Central (gain from Labour) and Brighton Pavilion (held).  Given that constituency boundaries are based on roughly equal population, North Herefordshire is the largest in area of these.  So (for example) fixing potholes here will be especially challenging..

Jesse Norman (Conservative) retained the City and South seat, but his majority was halved (from 61.2% to 32.6%) - and the seat was predicted to fall to Labour.  Likewise, the Tories held on to West Worcestershire (which includes Malvern) with a reduced majority, but lost Worcester City to Labour.

Farage’s xenophobic and climate-change denying Reform party, which won 5 seats nationally this time, came quite a respectable third in both Herefordshire constituencies, winning about 1/6 of the votes in each case.  This undoubtedly made the biggest dent in both Tories’ shares of the vote.  Reform UK has already stated this election is a stepping stone to its intention to make really big gains in 2029 when, they hope, Labour will have fallen out of favour.  Scary.

Boris’s other grace-and-favour knight in shining armour, ‘Sir’ Jacob Rees-Mogg, was displaced by Labour in North East Somerset and Hanham, so he can now fade unceremoniously back into the 19th Century.  Though, to be fair, that constituency’s boundary has been changed since 2019 to include part of south-east Bristol.  There has been a slight (but not really significant) tweak to Herefordshire’s constituencies: to move the area north of the Roman Road into the North and an area west of Hereford south of the Wye into the South.

One of Mr. Wiggin’s promises was to allocate £207M (funded from scrapping HS2) towards transport in the whole county (including fixing potholes).  It costs between £50 and £100 (so assume £75) to resurface one square metre of road, so assuming the average road width is 5m (most are more than this), that would mean more than £375 (say £400) to resurface a one metre length of road.  So roughly £400k to resurface one kilometre of road.  Herefordshire Council is responsible for about 3400km of roads (excluding the A49 and other main roads, which are the responsibility of the Highways Agency).  It won’t take the reader long to work out that Mr. Wiggin’s promise is way off the mark...

While potholes are an inconvenience (sometimes an expensive one) to car drivers, they can be life-threatening to cyclists and motorcyclists.

(Article revised 10th July to include the following:-)

End of more than a century of Tories:  The last Liberal MP (note: the party did not include the word ‘Democrat’ in its name at that time) lost his seat to the Conservatives in the January 1910 general election, having won it in January 1906.  Since then, the seat (which was listed as Leominster - the constituency changed to its present name in 2010) had remained various shades of blue for over a century, having been occupied by Conservatives or Unionists, until 4th July 2024.  This is apart from a brief spell around the turn of the millennium, when Mr. Wiggin’s predecessor, Peter Temple-Morris, was suspended from the Conservative Party in 1997 because Tory officials said he had “repeatedly and publicly questioned his continued commitment to the Conservative Party.”  Mr. Temple-Morris sat on the (then) government Labour benches from 1997 to 1998, but did not take the whip, instead sitting as a one-man ‘Independent One-Nation Conservative’ group.  However, in June 1998 he joined the Labour Party but stood down as an MP at the 2001 general election.  He is the only person to date ever to serve as a Labour MP representing Herefordshire, though he was never elected as a member of that party.  Unlike some of his original party, he was a man who had principles.  So Lib. Dem. candidate Cat Hornsey’s canvassing leaflet was technically incorrect by claiming that North Herefordshire had only ever been Conservative or Lib. Dem. - owing to the name change of her party since 1910 and Mr. Temple-Morris’ defection.

Before 1906, there had been one other Liberal gain, in 1885.  Prior to the mid-19th century, the Leominster seat changed hands a few times between the main two parties, who were then known as Whigs and Tories before assuming their present names.  These old names are both pejorative; ‘Whig’ being derived from the Scottish term ‘whiggamore’ (cattle driver), originally applied to radical Scottish factions against the King.  ‘Tory’ was an insult derived from the Middle Irish word ‘tóraidhe’ (modern Irish ‘tóraí’), meaning outlaw or robber, from the Irish word ‘tóir’, meaning pursuit, since outlaws were pursued men.  The reason why only the latter name survives today escapes me...  (Note that the Labour party did not exist until it was established by Kier Hardie in the late 1890s)

Phillip Howells, who stood in 2019 for the Lib. Dems, is a past mayor of Ledbury and still on Ledbury Town Council, though he now lives in Ross-on-Wye.  He was resoundingly knocked off his perch by the Greens in the Ledbury West ward of Herefordshire Council in May 2023, coming a very poor third.  Interestingly, he was adopted as the Lib. Dem. candidate for Wolverhampton West in the 2024 general election.  Unsurprisingly, he came 6th out of 8, with just 3.2% of the vote.

When Mr. Rees-Mogg was ‘Minster for Brexit Opportunities’ it must have been evident, even to him, there are none, since the best he could come up with was some daft proposal in 2022 to reinstate Imperial weights and measures!  The very loaded consultation concluded it was a total non-starter, after receiving over 100000 responses, of which fewer than 2% were in favour of such a ridiculous idea.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 July 2024 20:09