April 29, 2019 10.37 am This story is over 31 months old

Brexit doorstop blockade: ‘Publicity stunt’ or disdain for party politics?

Independent candidates say Brexit has seen residents fed up with the current system

Mainstream parties struggling to get past the issue of Brexit on residents’ doorsteps could be a sign local party politics is ending, independent group leaders have predicted.

Others have accused the parties of carrying out a “publicity stunt” in a bid to gain sympathy ahead of Thursday’s elections.

The Conservative Association for Boston this week wrote an open letter calling on Prime Minister Theresa May to step down over the “Brexit hurdle”, claiming it had a “real impact” on local candidates out campaigning.

They were backed by Labour leaders who also blamed the “messy situation nationally”.

However, leaders of a group set up to support independent candidates standing in elections said they had not met the same level of resistance, instead claiming that the issue surrounded failing party politics at local level.

Mike Gilbert, of Blue Revolution, said he had “some limited sympathy” with the “ground troops”  for the big two parties – and agreed it was “directly linked” to the Brexit debate.

However, he said  the issue was : “A resigned frustration at our failing party political system reflected in a refusal by many to vote.”

Mr Gilbert, a former Conservative and Boston Borough Councillor, added: “It seems to us … that party politics maybe coming slowly to its end.”

He accused party leaders nationally of “seeing no need to consider our views or be honest with us” and being “happy to hang their local activists out to dry”.

Leader of the Bostonian Independents Group Barrie Pierpoint took a harsher view accusing the parties of a “well-timed publicity stunt”.

“They are trying every trick in the book to get the sympathy of the electorate to support them … hoping to pull back the voters they are about to lose in droves over this incompetent mess their Conservative Government have placed this country in regarding Brexit,” he said.

Fellow BIG candidate Neill Hastie said if candidates believed Brexit was to blame they “should quit the party and run on their own merits.”

He added the issue had not come up in his discussions, and one of his main comments was people having not seen candidates knocking on doors.

UKIP candidates also said they had not had the same issue, but had come across similar comments.

Don Ransome said: “Usually these elections are about streetlights, potholes and wheelie bins but this time it is disgust at the two main parties.”

Canididates agreed that people should not be put off voting all together, however, imploring residents make their voice heard.

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