Bar chart showing Liberal Democrats on 39.5% of votes for major parties at the most recent local elections, Conservatives on 37.5%, Labour on 13%, and Greens on 10%

Only Paul can beat the Conservatives in Exmouth and Exeter East

We at the Exmouth and Exeter East Lib Dems very firmly believe that only Paul can beat the Conservative party candidate in this year's General Election.

Why do we say that? Simply, the recent electoral evidence is very clear. Of the number of district councillors elected in the last year across the constituency, including areas of both Exeter City and East Devon, there are 12 Liberal Democrats Councillors, 9 Conservatives and only 6 Labour and 2 Greens. If you look at vote share in all the most recent elections, the constituency-wide picture is much the same. This shows there is no chance whatsoever of a Labour or Green candidate winning here in a general election.

This isn’t speculation; it’s the reality of what people in our area have voted for in the last year or so. A vote for Labour or the Greens is likely to split the opposition vote and increase the chances of the Conservatives winning here – while a vote for the Conservatives is a clear message that you’re content with this government’s neglect of our public services, failure to prevent South West Water from poisoning our rivers and leaking sewage onto our beaches, and horrendous lack of thought for standards in public life.

Below, we set out a little more detail - as well as providing the data behind the bar chart on our literature.

BREAKING: New FT figures put Paul and the Lib Dems in the lead here

The FT's updated Poll Tracker, which now takes into account national and - crucially - local data, shows the Liberal Democrats ahead of the Conservatives here by over 4 points.

Following new polling data, the FT's prediction for #ExmouthandExeterEast now very clearly reflects what we have been saying all along. When local factors are properly taken into account, the Lib Dems are the clear opposition to the Conservatives here: Labour can't win here.

Source: Financial Times Seat Predictions

As it stands today, according to the Electoral Calculus, the Lib Dems are predicted to have a 46 percent chance of winning in Exmouth and Exeter East. They are the only pollsters to be taking full consideration of grassroots nuances – the reality of local elections, Labour's approach to the set, and Claire Wright's decision not to stand and instead to endorse Lib Dem Paul Arnott.

On their figures, Electoral Calculus had originally been placing the Conservatives in the lead - by less than 3% of predicted votes.

Now, they're estimating Paul Arnott and the Lib Dems are in the lead here in Exmouth and Exeter East.

Labour, meanwhile is given just a 5% chance of winning here.

Polls aside, here are the facts as it stands, as to why Paul and the Lib Dems are the only party which can win over the Conservatives in the new Exmouth and Exeter East constituency.

Screenshots of a Labour Party document showing Exmouth and Exeter East as a non-battleground seat

Labour know they can't win here

Before you consider any of the other data, it's worth knowing that this is not just the established situation on the ground or the view of the pollsters: Labour themselves have already acknowledged that they can't win in Exmouth and Exeter East.

They've designated the seat a 'non-battleground' seat - one of the two-hundred or so constituencies nationwide that they've de-prioritised, to focus on seats where they think they have a good chance of winning in this General Election.

Source: Labour Party Governance & Legal Unit

Graphic showing the number of councillors in each district council ward across the constituency

Residents in the constituency already trust Lib Dems to deliver for them

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate, Paul Arnott, has been the leader of East Devon District Council for four years, heading up a coalition of Independents, LibDems and Greens – overturning 45 years of Conservative rule.

There are currently NO Labour councillors in the whole of the East Devon district, and 12 Lib Dems.

In the latest, recent, by-election in Exmouth’s Brixington ward, the Conservatives just pipped the LibDems with 586 votes, just 69 more votes than the LibDems. Labour only took 339 - nowhere near a winning result in a key battleground area.

Each party holds the following district council seats across the constituency:

  • Lib Dems: 12
  • Conservatives: 9
  • Labour: 6
  • Greens: 2

Because, in our view, local election results provide a much truer picture of party allegiances and likely voting intention than national polls. As it stands, therefore, given the choice, our constituents prefer yellow to red. We expand on this more below discussing the evidence behind our bar chart.

Source: East Devon District Council and Exeter City Council

Claire Wright and Paul Arnott surrounded by smiling supporters carrying 'Paul Arnott for a Fair Deal' signs

Claire Wright, GE2019, and Pollsters

All posters largely use national level data to estimate the likely results in each constituency, applying data gathered from a few thousand people polled nationally to a much smaller area - which clearly doesn’t take into account local idiosyncrasies, of which the Exmouth and Exeter East seat is full of them…

In the last General election in 2019, most non-Tory voters in the old East Devon seat – which is three quarters of the new constituency – backed Claire Wright.

She got 41 percent in that 2019 election – with many Lib Dems viewing Claire as a de facto Lib Dem: in 2015, when Claire first ran, there was a 24% drop in Lib Dem votes but a simultaneous 24% rise in votes for Claire. In 2019, Labour got only 4.5 percent and the Lib Dems 2.8 percent.

The problem is, some pollsters are using these out-of-date figures to estimate that Labour is a more likely winner in the new constituency than the Lib Dems next month. In reality - as Electoral Calculus has recognised - Claire has endorsed Paul Arnott for Exmouth and Exeter East, and the vast majority of voters who supported her run for parliament are very likely to support Paul this time around.

So, until the tactical voting sites and national pollsters catch up with the reality on the ground, stop using out of date figures and instead give local election results the kudos they deserve, by and large we don't believe their conclusions can be trusted.

Understanding our bar chart

Transparency is fundamental for Liberal Democrats. That's why we've produced this section, giving you the data behind the bar chart we use on our literature - so you can decide whether you agree only Paul Arnott can beat the Conservatives here.

Exmouth and Exeter East is a new constituency formed as a result of boundary changes introduced by an independent group of experts commissioned by the government. It is made up of twelve wards from East Devon District, eleven of which were part of the old East Devon constituency, and three from Exeter City, two of which were similarly part of the former East Devon constituency.

Because the constituency has never gone through an election before, and no-one has undertaken a poll of people that live here to estimate how they might vote in the General Election - what we call 'voter intent' - there's no easy way to predict who is the main challenger to the Conservatives here. Any data you might have seen from polling companies, to the best of our knowledge, is currently based on national surveys of a couple of thousand people that are then plugged in to statistical models that use largely the same rules everywhere.

To show why we think Paul is Exmouth and Exeter East's best chance of having a non-Conservative MP after July 4th, we've put together data from the latest election in each local authority ward within the constituency, showing votes cast for candidates standing for each of the four main parties - all from numbers freely available from East Devon and Exeter council websites - which we've put together in the below table. For 11 wards, all in East Devon, this data - the most recent available - is from 2023's council-wide elections; for all three Exeter wards, this data is from elections held in May 2024; and for the last East Devon ward, Exmouth Brixington, this is from a by-election held in May 2024.

We've used the most recent data from all wards because we believe it shows the most up-to-date picture of how people in all areas of the constituency are likely to vote on July 4th.

Some people have asked us why we haven't included data for independents in these figures. We've done this for two reasons:

  1. Every independent is different; by definition, they stand for a set of beliefs, values, and policies that they decide for themselves - and because of this we don't think they represent a single "block" of votes that are likely to move in the same direction at a General Election
  2. Claire Wright, the well-known Independent candidate in the East Devon constituency in 2015, 2017, and 2019 General Elections, is not standing this time around - Claire has instead endorsed our candidate, Paul Arnott

We hope this makes it clear how we've reached the percentages we've shown on our literature, but if you have any further queries, please get in touch.

A table showing data from May 2023 and May 2024 local elections
Most recent election data from wards in Exmouth and Exeter East. Source: East Devon District Council & Exeter City Council

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