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Saturday, 2 May 2015

Lib Dems: Vote NHAP in South West Surrey

The treasurer of the Liberal Democrats in South West Surrey, who have suspended their own election candidate, is now urging Lib Dems to vote for the National Health Action Party candidate, Dr Louise Irvine, in an attempt to oust Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Earlier this week the Liberal Democrats suspended their candidate, Patrick Haveron, pending police invesigations over his nomination papers. But due to electoral rules, his name will still appear on the ballot paper, so people who turn up polling stations in the constituency unaware that he has been suspended, may still vote for him. The returning officer has said they are not allowed to put up notices at polling stations nor reprint the ballot papers.

The Lib Dems polled over 17,000 votes in 2010. Chris Hyland, who is the Treasurer of the SW Surrey Liberal Democrats and who has himself stood as a Lib Dem candidate in previous local elections said: "The electoral mess in South West Surrey is beyond bizarre. Patrick Haveron is no longer recognised by us as our candidate and I gather he himself has said that he would be prepared to have his name removed from the ballot paper. Because of electoral rules this is not possible and it seems no official announcement can be made by the Returning Officer."  

Mr Hyland continued: "The Liberal Democrat Party locally are unable to officially endorse another candidate, but I would urge Lib Dem supporters to vote for Dr Louise Irvine of the National Health Action Party. She has the best chance of defeating the sitting MP, Jeremy Hunt. I've seen Louise in action at a local hustings and have been really impressed by her and what she stands for. Given there is now no chance of a Lib Dem winning this seat, I'd want her as my MP."

The National Health Action Party candidate, Dr Louise Irvine, who was already the bookies' second favourite, well ahead of the main political parties said: "I am delighted that Chris Hyland has spoken out, telling Lib Dems to vote for me. Since the Liberal Democrats suspended Patrick Haveron, I'd already been receiving support from their members. And I have been picking up support from huge numbers of disillusioned Tories too.

Dr Irvine continued: "This endorsement from Chris Hyland is a great boost to my campaign. It underlines the fact that I am now the only candidate able to beat Jeremy Hunt. This election has become a straight choice for the voters of South West Surrey: more austerity, more NHS cuts and chaos. Or an MP who is honest, independent and responsive to their needs, backed by a party that knows how to fund and fix the NHS, and will invest in housing and education, work to reform the EU and make MPs more accountable. "I would urge all Liberal Democrats, and all voters in this constituency who care about the future of our NHS and the future of our country, to back me on May 7th."

Dr Irvine, who as chair of the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign has already twice beaten Jeremy Hunt in the courtroom, is also being backed by Queen star Brian May and his Common Decency campaign. But she said she was very concerned that because of Mr Haveron's suspension, local people may end up voting for a candidate who isn't an actual candidate: "I am also concerned that the lack of awareness locally about the suspension of the Lib Dem candidate is casting a cloud over the democratic process. When I've been out campaigning this week and over the weekend, so many people I've spoken just aren't aware of what's happened. The Electoral Commission and the local returning officer have told us they are unable to change the ballot paper or inform the voters about what's happened. 

Dr Irvine continued: "So we now have a ridiculous situation where voters in South West Surrey, who may not be aware of the latest events, will turn up at polling stations and be misled into casting a vote for Mr Haveron or who may have made different choices had they been aware of the full facts. Plus there is also the issue of postal votes already cast before Mr Haveron's suspension. Given the Liberal Democrats polled over 17 thousand votes in 2010 in this constituency, this could materially affect the outcome of the election."

"I'm urging the Liberal Democrats to do all they can to inform their members in South West Surrey of the unusual circumstances. I'm also calling for an immediate review of electoral rules to ensure a commonsense approach to events that occur after the official registration process to avoid a mockery being made of our democratic process". Louise Irving added.