Why we lost the Sawley by-election

July 2nd, Sawley, Derbys. Canvassing with Cllrs Chris Corbett and Donna Briggs

Last weekend, the final weekend before the Sawley County Council by-election on July 7th, I was out canvassing with Cllr Chris Corbett, who was standing for the County Council seat after a dozen years on the Borough Council.  We had quite a team out with us, and got a pretty fair reception on the doorstep.

But sadly, on the day, in this seat where we had reasonable expectations of winning, Chris was beaten by Labour by a margin of 152 votes.  And the reason, according both to Chris, and to other Derby Conservatives whom I met over lunch today (July 8th) at an event at the Morley Hayes Golf Club, could be put in one word.  Bombardier.

There is still, quite rightly, great anger in Derby over the awarding of the Crossrail rolling stock order to Siemens in Germany, which seems to be the death knell not only for Bombardier in Derby, where they have just announced 1500 redundancies, but for the railway construction industry in Britain.

Pauline Latham, the excellent MP for Mid-Derbyshire (and former MEP candidate), has raised the issue repeatedly with the Rt. Hon. Philip Hammond.  I have written to Transport Minister (and former MEP colleague) Theresa Villiers, while the other East Midlands Conservative MEP Emma McClarkin put the question to Theresa at our ECR Study Days in Windsor the week before last.  The answer we are getting is that the government is bound by both EU procurement rules, and by the bidding conditions set by the previous Labour government, which apparently did not allow consideration for local social and employment impacts.

Of course we all know that we are bound by EU rules, and that the government has an obligation to seek best value for the tax-payer.  But governments are there to govern, and the impact both on Derby, and more generally on British manufacturing industry, is profound.  The key question, it seems to me, is why French and German orders virtually always go to domestic bidders, while in the UK some half or so go abroad.  In my remarks at lunch, I blamed cricket.  We in the UK have a tradition of sportsmanship and playing by the rules, while those pesky Europeans seem to bend the rules to their national advantage.  But as long as we are stuck in this nightmare of a European Union, we have to learn to compete on equal terms if we want our economy to survive, and pensioners to get their pensions, and our children to have jobs.

MPs are continuing to make representations to the government, and I hope that Philip Hammond and Theresa Villiers will grasp the seriousness of the problem.  The Sawley by-election result should help to clarify their minds, and if it does, I believe that Chris Corbett will feel that his efforts were well worthwhile, even if he has to wait till next time to win the seat.

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3 Responses to Why we lost the Sawley by-election

  1. The crazy thing is that on the EU Labour is no better and arguably much worse, but thanks to liberal media brainwashing the public still think they are the more caring party.

    We must realise that being fair and reasonable is a luxury that is nice during the good times, but our opponents just see it as a weakness to exploit. We will have to learn to be more ruthless if we are to stand any chance of survival.

  2. Alfred says:

    We are in danger of mixing two principles here.

    1) The tendencies of the Westminster puppet government to gold-plate EU legislation and the Continental EU States to bend the rules
    2) The disastrous policies of tax payer subsidies

    They should be separate issues. Almost invariably, subsidies damage both the payee and the recipient as our previous taxpayer support for some UK lame ducks has proven. When we finally gave up pouring tax payer funds into subsidising the UK car industry, and it collapsed, it opened the way for a new one, using many locally sourced parts and labour, but now called Honda, Nissan etc.

    Was the German bid a better bid? I don’t know, but if so then the contract should go to the German firm.

  3. Mike Spilligan says:

    I have seen the way these things work, though admittedly on small commercial contracts. Both the Germans and the French write contract terms of reference and technical details not just to suit their preferred successful bidder, but confer with them in advance to ensure that that bidder’s offer is 100% in compliance. Just as importantly they work into the details data which might preclude a different, strong competitor. That may not be legal, but who’s to know?
    Probably more importantly are the financial conditions, penalty clauses, etc. and the exact wording of these.
    At one time German companies, on export contracts only, were permitted under German laws, to allow for “sweeteners” which were even tax-deductible! That practice continued for some time after it was forbidden by EU rules: “It is a tradition here”.
    I could add to these items, but I wonder whether our civil servants are “savvy” about what goes really goes on in the cut-throat world of engineering contracts, any one of which may be the final one.

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