Progressives come together in Devon to oust local Conservative MP

Progressive campaigners in South Devon have come together to oust the local Conservative MP.

Local campaigners are hosting what they are calling a “South Devon Primary” in order to crown a single “unity candidate” who can successfully compete at the forthcoming election.

Over the next two weeks, Devon South’s “People’s Champion” candidate will be elected through voting at seven town hall events across the constituency.

The first event, which took place in Totnes on Saturday, was not attended by Labour, because the party is yet to select its candidate in the constituency.

Criticising the UK’s first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting system as no longer “fit for purpose”, the organisers say selecting a “People’s Champion” is the only way of securing victory.

The winner of the South Devon Primary will have the endorsement of the local campaigners, but the losing candidates will remain on the ballot paper.

On current polling, Conservative MP Anthony Mangnall is set to win the new seat of Devon South.

After boundary changes, Mangnall’s current seat of Totnes will become Devon South at the next election.

In 2019, Mangnall won Totnes with 53.2 per cent of the vote, compared with 28.8 per cent for the Liberal Democrat candidate and 17 per cent for Labour.

Mangnall bested Liberal Democrat candidate Sarah Wollaston, who defected to the party in 2019 in protest over the Conservatives’ position on Brexit.

Electoral Calculus currently predicts that Mangnall will win Devon South with 28.7 per cent of the vote. The political forecasting website has the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties both on 27.5 per cent. 

Liberal Democrat candidate Carol Voaden told The Times newspaper: “I am here because I don’t want to be represented in Westminster by a Tory MP for a minute longer and by an inept, corrupt and cruel government lost in the political wilderness.”

She added: “I do not want to be standing there on election night on that platform by Anthony Mangnall’s smug face because he has won this election by a thousand votes. Visualise how that will feel.”

In response, Mangnall has accused those hoping to select a unity candidate of seeking to “restrict democracy”. is the UK’s leading digital-only political website, providing comprehensive coverage of UK politics. Subscribe to our daily newsletter here.