Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Neil Basnett - the "local" candidate?

News reached me late last night that local travel agent Neil Basnett plans to stand as an independent candidate in Stratford at the forthcoming general election.

I attended his public meeting last week along with approximately 40 others , many of which urged him not to stand (hardly giving him a larger local mandate to represent local conservatives than Nadhim Zahawi who was selected by a vote of nearly 200 people). What was interesting was that he refused to be drawn on policy with the exception of his views on Afghanistan (that troops should be brought home immedieately leaving a potential security vacuum in the region) and that he was pro the building of more affordable housing in Stratford.

Many of his issues, and those of his supporters are those dealt with at a local council level, the Bancroft gardens, parking in the town etc. These are obviously important issues to residents of the town (who make up less than a third of the constituency electorate) but what about flooding in Shipston or the state of the economy which affects the whole constituency, not just empty shops in the town. Does Mr Basnett think the deficit should be cut quickly or slowly, does he even know the difference between debt and deficit?

The other worrying thing that came from both him and his supporters was that they felt that a damaging hung parliament was inevitable and would actually be a benificial thing for Stratford if he was our MP. Never mind that interest rates would rise, that the government credit rating would be cut from triple A increasing the cost of borrowing, Neil Basnett's independent vote would be courted by all parties, stroking his ego suitably.

So lets compare the options. On one hand you have Nadhim Zahawi, a strong Conservative who decided to support his country by registering with the Conservative party to become a candidate before a cushy local seat became available. Someone who since being selected has made his home in the centre of the town. A businessman who built a business from 2 men in a shed to a multinational corporation that floated on the stock exchange for over £200 million pounds. He is a Conservative candidate, whose election would help return a Conservative government locally, with strong views on the economy, defence, Europe and immigration.

On the other hand you have Neil Basnett. A man who admits he had no interest in becoming a politician until his local seat became available and he disagreed with who the local party selected as candidate. A local travel agent running one travel agency in one town, for whom Stratford is also an adopted home. A man who has no policy except for Afghanistan hardly a local issue, but that admits that his views on immigration are the same as Nadhim Zahawi and that has publicly stated that Stratford needs to have more houses built. An independent candidate whose election would help to return a hung parliament rather than the new Conservative government this country needs.

Who would you choose?

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