Why we will not back MP to stand again

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From: George Winn-Darley, Buttercrambe, and Victor Buchanan, Pickering.

THE members of Thirsk and Malton Conservatives will decide whether or not Anne McIntosh should be readopted as the candidate for this constituency in 2015. Party rules bar Association officers from stating the case against re-adoption. But as concerned ordinary members, we are free to speak out — and we will not be voting for Miss McIntosh next week for three reasons: 

First, we believe Thirsk and Malton deserves a more effective MP. Many constituents feel Miss McIntosh’s responses on issues raised directly with her have fallen short of what they expected, and that she has displayed poor judgement on key local issues. Her assiduously-managed media profile leads people to believe she is a tirelessly active constituency MP, but closer scrutiny suggests that her profile has far more to do with her role on a Westminster select committee rather than her efforts on behalf of her own constituents.

Secondly, in the 2009 de-selection meeting, Miss McIntosh made important promises in a bid to mend broken fences. She said she would establish a presence in the Association office to improve communication. Although she later employed a part-time local aide, he is not allowed to communicate in any useful way with Association officers and other volunteers. She also promised access to her diary so the Association could coordinate events, fund-raising, and campaigning. She never fulfilled this promise, causing untold problems for hardworking activists.

Finally, and most importantly, we believe it is untenable to have an MP who cannot work with her local party. Opinion may differ as to Miss McIntosh’s record as a politician, but no-one can deny that these divisions have gone on far too long.

Successive committees have fallen out with her. The current committee was formed in 2009, after the de-selection battle, of individuals who were keen to support her, and did so during the 2010 election campaign. But the pattern repeated itself, and her unwillingness to cooperate is severely affecting our ability to fundraise and campaign on every level.

With regret, we say that this poisonous situation cannot be allowed to continue. Instead, we want an open selection, in which we can choose from a range of new candidates who will not only match Anne McIntosh’s media skills, knowledge of rural affairs and Conservative beliefs, but also bring our Association together, so we can fight and win a resounding victory in 2015.

From: Charles D Torlesse, High Street, Stillington, York.

THIRSK and Malton Conservative Association members will soon receive ballot papers. Included with these will be an A4 sheet from Anne McIntosh, putting forward her case for her re-adoption. Party rules however forbid being able to include the written case for not so doing.

I feel it is important that members understand some of the cogent reasons for not re-adopting her. I have been a management committee member from 2002 until 2013. It appears it is not possible for the Association and Anne McIntosh to work as an effective team.

Disharmony has been exacerbated by what appears to be her deliberate failure to communicate with Association officers and staff. Her assistant in the Malton office is not allowed to communicate, in any useful way with the Association. Her Westminster staff may take messages, but prompt replies from Anne are rare. Her diary is not copied to Malton and together, with her general lack of openness and poor personal relations with many Association members, the ability to co-ordinate fundraising events and campaigning is severely hampered.

General elections are fraught enough without all this. A united Association is needed for the 2015 election. Ukip and the Lib Dems (who once took this seat at a by-election with a 10,000 majority) are out there.

Division in the Association damages political function. It cripples fund raising and large events are not viable at present.

Many patrons’ subscriptions have not been renewed.

Before the second of the three attempts to deselect her in 2009, I responded to a telephone call from Anne McIntosh: “Yes, I am your friend but I am also a friend to the Association.” It is to the Association, which badly needs a new MP to consolidate support behind him or her, that I am now inclined.

Lanterns a wildlife threat

From: Elisabeth Baker, Broomhill Crescent, Leeds.

HAVING followed the sad story of the illness and death of 14-month-old Erin Field, it was good to read (Yorkshire Post, January 2) that her family in both Yorkshire and Scotland wanted to commemorate her life.

However, the way in which this has been done could have disastrous consequences. Chinese lanterns are naked flames in metal framed covers. Fires have been started when lanterns have landed in barns or on hay and straw piles. Animals have been injured and even killed by investigating and eating the metal of the frames when the remains of lanterns have landed near them.

Sadly, the fact that lanterns were released in the countryside at Otley Chevin makes these potentially tragic outcomes more likely. I am sure that the last thing which Erin’s parents would want would be further sadness caused by something done in her memory.

There is currently a campaign seeking the banning of Chinese lanterns. The dangers attached to their use far outweigh any benefit to those releasing them. I hope that a safer form of celebration or commemoration can be found for the future.

From: Mrs H Lofthouse, Forest Gate, Otley.

BEING a great grandmother, I have every sympathy with the loss of dear little Erin Field.

But with the release of all those Chinese lanterns, how many animals will suffer from the wire in the fields?

Flawed move over smoking

From: Mike Ridgway, Ghyll Wood, Ilkley.

I READ your recent front page article that tripling tobacco taxes could prevent 200 million early deaths and I wish to reply on such a statement.

I read on a regular basis articles in the Yorkshire Post that highlight the problems and consequences of increased tobacco regulation. The consequences of increased regulation and taxation, including the potential introduction of plain packaging, are greatly increased incentives for the criminal fraternity. The experience from Australia is that increased regulation and duties is not the answer to reduce smoking uptake and the view from that country, to date, is that smoking levels are not influenced by packaging or immediate increases in taxation.

This country has also seen a significant increase in the illicit trade and with such experiences being repeated in the UK the current revenue losses (according to HMRC) of some £8m per day can only benefit the earnings of the criminals. I write as a former MD of Weidenhammer UK Limited and spokesman for six leading packaging companies.

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