Exmouth and Exeter East constituency Green parliamentary candidate is announced

Local democracy reporter Will Goddard recently spoke to the Exmouth and Exeter East constituency Green parliamentary candidate Olly Davey – who is pitted to stand against Liberal Democrat Paul Arnott, Garry Sutherland for Reform UK, and Conservative David Reed, once a General Election is called.

The forthcoming Exmouth and Exeter East constituency is an “unknown quantity” and it is “not impossible a Green might actually slip through”, Green Party candidate Olly Davey claims.

The new seat is being formed from much of the old East Devon constituency, including Exmouth, Topsham, Budleigh Salterton and Cranbrook, but also eastern parts of Exeter like Pinhoe.

East Devon has always voted Conservative in parliamentary elections, and Exeter has been held by Sir Ben Bradshaw for Labour since Tony Blair’s landslide victory in 1997.

With just one per cent of the vote, the Greens did poorly in East Devon in the 2019 general election, losing their deposit, but did snap up 8.6 per cent of the Exeter vote to come third out of six candidates.

But which way the next election in Exmouth and Exeter East will go is “anybody’s guess”, Mr Davey believes. The 73-year-old mayor of Exmouth currently sits on East Devon District Council’s cabinet.

Born and raised in Dumfries in Scotland, Mr Davey has lived in Exmouth for four decades. He is married with three children and two grandchildren. Now retired, he once worked as a technician in ceramics at Rolle College, as a teacher at Exeter Road Primary School and later as a music teacher.

Cllr Davey explained: “I am very committed to the Green cause and I have been really since the mid-70s.

“I’ve always tried to keep my carbon footprint down by walking and cycling where possible, using public transport, and those are things that I’m really passionate about and want to support.

“I’d like to see a lot more funding going into active travel. Better public transport in this area as well would help people living in rural areas to be less dependent on the car.

“One of the reasons I want to stand in this election is to make sure that Green issues and the environment are not left out of the debate, because they quite often are.

“I think it would be good to have more Green MPs at Westminster. If there’s a Green in the room, all of a sudden everybody’s trying to prove how Green they are.”

Cllr Davey describes himself as “more left than right” and wants to see proportional representation in parliament and greater collaboration.

He said: “I believe in social justice, I believe in the role of the state, but at the same time I’m supportive of business, but not at the expense of the environment.

“I’m sure lots of people on the left would say the same. But I think being Green is a bit different. I find myself agreeing with Conservative councillors, as much as I agree with those who would position themselves on the left.

“One of the problems, I think, in current political debate is you’re always faced with these binary choices.

“It’s left or right. It’s Israel or Gaza. Everything’s presented as though there’s an either-or.

“I think often it’s not as simple as that. We need a bit more nuance in politics.

“That’s another reason that Greens, of course, support PR [proportional representation].

“Under a PR system you get more points of view represented in the House of Commons because at the moment… we get these oscillating governments and they’re always pitted against each other.

“I think you’d have to have a more collaborative way of working if you had PR. I’m part of a coalition at East Devon District Council, we experience collaborative work.”

A general election is expected this year and must be held by the end of January 2025.

Three other candidates have been announced for Exmouth and Exeter East so far. They are former Royal Marine David Reed for the Conservatives, East Devon District Council leader Paul Arnott for the Liberal Democrats, and Garry Sutherland for Reform UK.

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