Independent candidate left out of Plymouth election debates

WATCH ABOVE: Watch Oliver Colvile’s feisty exchange with voter at the same event

An independent Parliamentary candidate claims he was “banned” from three political debates in less than 24 hours.

Entrepreneur Danny Bamping, standing in Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, says he is being denied the chance to make his pitch to voters in favour of the mainstream parties.

Mr Bamping was not invited to take part in a hustings at Plymouth University on Tuesday evening.

The panel was made up of Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Green candidates, alongside representatives from Christian Aid and Devon Wildlife Trust.

Mr Bamping, who once appeared on BBC show Dragons’ Den, sat in the crowd instead.

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“The organisers denied an independent perspective to their audience,” he said.

“Half the panel were in many ways not relevant and spoke for the majority of the proceedings.”

Debate organiser Alan Ramage, of the Green Book Club, said candidates do not have an automatic right to be invited.

“The Electoral Commission guidance on hustings, which can be viewed online, states that impartial reasons can be given for not inviting a candidate to attend an event,” Mr Ramage said.

Mr Ramage said Mr Bamping was not invited for three reasons set out by the Electoral Commission.

These were: Local prominence of some parties or candidates over others; number of elected representatives at the local or national level; and recent election results in the area.

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Professor Iain Stewart (above), who hosted the event, said: “I have some sympathy for Danny – it is tough going without the party apparatus behind you.

“In our case, the hustings explored cross-political views on environmental and international development issues, rather than the local constituency concerns, which meant also including apolitical commentators expert on those issues.

“To avoid the panel being too large, not every political viewpoint could be accommodated on stage but we were delighted that Danny could contribute his views from the audience.”

Mr Bamping also claims he was not invited to two debates at City College Plymouth on Wednesday. This was later rectified for the later event.

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A spokeswoman for Plymouth NUT said: “The event is open to all and the idea is to hold a broad debate around education issues. Mr Bamping is very welcome to attend.”

Mr Bamping added: “I am here to try to win this seat and I have three weeks to get the support of 20,000 local people to ensure this city has an independent candidate in Parliament.

“True representation in Parliament is by voting for independents, as it was intended for and built for, because it was not meant for parties.

“Thirty-five per cent of this constituency failed to even cast a vote last time, basically because they had nothing to vote for. Well now they do.

“Party politics is failing and it’s only a matter of time before more and more independents are voted in.

“The fact I have been prevented from speaking or attending events just shows you the lengths some people are already going to in order to try to prevent the audience at these events having someone who represents them and not a party.”

Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport candidates in full

Danny Bamping, Independent

Entrepreneur who appeared on BBC show Dragon’s Den in 2005 and is spokesman for the British Big Cats Society.

Stopped paying council tax eight years ago to highlight what he sees as an unfair system.

Promises he would speak freely as he is not connected to a political party.

Henrietta Bewley, Liberal Democrat

A former British Airways business analyst, now working as a freelance singer and teacher.

“The Liberal Democrats proved when we were in government that it’s possible to make a big difference and I hope we can do so again,” she says.

“Lib Dems guaranteed an annual rise in old age pensions with a triple lock; we helped disadvantaged school children with the pupil premium; and we raised personal allowances which lifted the lowest paid out of income tax.”

Oliver Colvile, Conservative

First elected in 2010 and appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Ministers of State at the Ministry of Defence in 2015.

Last year Mr Colvile was appointed as PPS to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

Promises to be “Plymouth’s voice in Westminster”, focusing on transport, jobs, the Armed Forces, heritage, potholes and Mayflower 400.

Michael Ellison, UKIP

Stood for council in Devonport in 2014, 2015 and 2016, when he was chairman of the Plymouth and South West Devon UKIP branch.

I have lived in Devonport for many years, am well known in maritime circles and will strongly represent our Ocean City.

Luke Pollard, Labour and Co-operative Party

Lost out to Mr Colvile in 2015 by just 523 votes.

Works advising on major construction projects and believes Plymouth has been “let down by people putting their party ahead of Plymouth.”

Priorities include jobs, housing and defending public services.

Daniel Sheaff, The Green Party

Stood as a council candidate in 2015 and 2016.

Is currently the party’s vice-coordinator and campaigns officer.

The Greens say they have “worked tirelessly” to try to broker an electoral pact with Labour, which may have involved the Greens standing down in Sutton and Devonport, but the talks were unsuccessful.


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