By Frankie Rufolo, For Britain candidate for Exwick

Franke Rufolo confronts local Labour politician

For almost a decade, Exeter City Council has been completely Labour-dominated. For twenty-five years, the MP Ben Bradshaw has held one of the party’s safest seats. Until recently, they were in control of Plymouth whereas in more rural areas, the party is smaller but more radical. They’re a threat to this country, a threat even to this county and are running the city I love into the ground.

Remember the corruption scandal at the Tory-dominated East Devon District Council I mentioned in my article on the local Conservatives? One unelected senior figure there was Karime Hassan, now the unelected Chief Executive at Labour-dominated Exeter City Council. He was accused by The Exeter Observer of cherry-picking statistics to exaggerate the success of the city’s economy and Labour’s environmental policies and making the council less transparent with the unelected Liveable Exeter Place Board meeting in private to advise the council without publishing their proceedings.

Whilst Exeter’s new eco-friendly council houses have received national attention and the council constantly promote their ambitious “Net Zero” plans for carbon emissions, Labour don’t have the best green credentials here. Bins and rubbish are a day-to-day issue that comes up on the doorstep and Exeter is littered with broken promises: for around five years, Labour have pledged to introduce food waste collections but they’ve barely even started. This city has by far the lowest recycling rates in Devon. Many of the litter bins in our parks and high street are impractically small, especially around Exwick, and many of them are not seagull-proof. Two large industrial bins were removed from St Thomas Pleasure Grounds without explanation. The electric “Co-Bikes” the council are rolling out have huge plastic parts which could make them a double-edged sword when it comes to the environment. When University of Exeter research shows there’s a problem with micro-plastics in the River Exe, Labour-run Plymouth City Council have allowed plastic to blow into the River Plym due to mismanagement at their recycling centre, and Devon’s beaches have some of the worst plastic pollution in the country, it’s a serious problem, one The For Britain Movement has sound policies to deal with.

The university is not all good for Exeter however: the Labour administration have approved far too many student flats in the city centre without charging the developers to build them. It’s thought to have lost the council a million pounds and resulted in some modern architecture eyesores. Local businesses that went bust and retail space that went unused has been converted into university accommodation, killing the high street and the environment. The university plans to expand its campus and build over green land, a beautiful healthy old ash tree at our old ambulance station was cut down to make way for student flats and more trees are under threat from a “co-living” development where the Harlequins Shopping Centre used to be, a plan critics describe as student flats in all but name. Labour approved the application and the Tory minister Robert Jenrick refused to intervene. Labour are supposed to be the party of the working class but they’re allowing this city to be transformed by students, over 30% of whom are private school educated. Many of these developments are luxury accommodation: because it’s so expensive, often it doesn’t all go to students and has to be sold off privately, therefore it doesn’t help free up the private rental market. Meanwhile, overseas ownership of property in the city has tripled in ten years. Houses in Exeter should be for Exonians.

The other Labour council in Devon has also caused controversy regarding a university: in Plymouth an independent candidate who lost by a small margin was shocked to discover that many students in the area had been registered to vote without their knowledge. Plymouth City Council’s Labour administration, who took over with the help of Jeremy Corbyn, broke electoral law. It’s therefore worrying that a local Labour councillor in Exeter made a speech opposing voter ID laws and the leader of the council agreed and said that people should be able to vote using an app. Many of us do not trust electronic voting equipment that’s been used to rig elections in other countries.

Back to education, a couple of the Labour councillors are teachers and another is a senior figure in the National Education Union. None of them supported the teacher who was suspended, doxed and threatened for showing children cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in a lesson about blasphemy. They supported the manifesto pledge to abolish private schools when one of Exeter’s best schools is Maynard, a private girls’ school. They supported the pledge to abolish Ofsted when the schools regulatory board took action to investigate a Plymouth nursery that allowed toddlers to escape and wonder over to a busy road. Only The For Britain Movement will defend school choice and educational standards.

Exeter’s Labour council is not providing for children here: many playgrounds have been falling into disrepair for years without good equipment for the little ones but too small for the older kids – there are wooden climbing frames and obstacle courses that were there when I was a kid. When playground equipment has to be removed, often it is not replaced. Only the biggest and the best parks are regularly updated (not always adequately) whilst other neighbourhood are badly neglected.

I’m no fan of Andy Burnham, but many people were glad to see Labour in the North resist more lockdown restrictions. Here in Devon, where coronavirus cases have been relatively low, Exeter City Council were closing playgrounds, chaining shut outdoor tennis courts and removing swings and other equipment at the government’s request. The skate-park was fenced off. This can’t have been good for the mental and physical health of the children and removing harmless activities for young people most likely contributed to problems with anti-social behaviour. Local businesses like Plants Galore in Topsham and Finla Coffee in Plymouth who defied lockdown restrictions and defended themselves well were threatened and punished by the Labour councils.

Not only are local Labour lockdown zealots, but they’re also woefully woke. After the terrible death of George Floyd, the leader of Exeter City Council made a speech about “Black Lives Matter.” One police murder in America apparently warranted his attention, but the worst police brutality in the world is in Venezuela, a regime Jeremy Corbyn supported. Local Labour councillors post anti-Israel content on their social media all the time but when the Hong Kongers at Exeter University were attacked by supporters of the Chinese Communist Party for showing solidarity with pro-democracy protesters, these politicians said and did nothing. Last year, Exeter City Council made national news when the Labour leadership suggested relocating a statue of a Boer War general from Devon. The monument to Redvers Buller is currently outside Exeter College and the councillors said it should be moved away from diverse students. Treating these young people differently for the colour of their skin is disgusting racism. Many of them will be history students and the statue is something to talk about. Similarly, Plymouth City Council decided to rename a square named after a slave trader and Labour branches in East Devon, Newton Abbott, South Hams, and North Devon passed motions supporting Jeremy Corbyn when he had the whip withdrawn. Although the Labour Party always claim to be anti-racist, in 2019, not one, not two, but three of their candidates for Torbay Council were suspended for antisemitism.

Although these upcoming elections are just for the councils, this vote is an opportunity to protest on national issues and send a clear message to MPs. Exeter’s Member of Parliament Ben Bradshaw may seem like a nice guy on a bike, but he’s a very dangerous man: he’s consistently voted for wasteful regime change wars such as the invasion of Iraq and the destruction of Libya, killing thousands of people. It’s widely accepted that destabilising the Middle East has helped unleash Islamic terrorism on the West. My friend’s grandma was in Exeter’s Giraffe Café when a white convert to Islam called Nicky Reily tried to blow himself up in the toilets but only injuring himself in a failed terrorist attack in 2008. The Islamist cell behind the plot had previously planned to blow up the navy docks in Plymouth but saw civilians as a softer target. I’ll say it now: Ben Bradshaw, the attempted suicide bombing in our city was a direct result of your foreign policy.

As one of the first MPs who was openly gay at the time of his election, Bradshaw likes to think of himself as some champion of LGBT rights. Well I’m the Bisexual Brexiteer and he’s no hero of mine. My shameful MP rebelled against the Labour whip to vote against a ban on arms deals with Saudi Arabia, a country where men like him face the death penalty and a regime that is bombing Yemen, condemning the country’s children to agonising famine.

Bradshaw doom-mongered about Brexit leading to the privatisation of the NHS but when he was Health Minister under Gordon Brown, the British Medical Association said that the private management he brought in and changes he made were the first steps towards privatising the NHS. He was also criticised for defending parking charges at NHS hospitals, something The For Britain Movement would scrap. More recently, Bradshaw voted to fire the thousands of healthcare workers who hadn’t received COVID vaccines. For Britain oppose such mandates.

The MP for Exeter was one of the worst Remoaners, leading the calls for another EU referendum without enacting the result of the first one and absurdly blaming it all on Russia. Bradshaw promised his city (which voted 55% Remain) he would never abstain on Brexit and then he abstained on Johnson’s Brexit deal. But worse than him on Brexit is the MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport Luke Pollard, who was just as anti-democratic when the navy city overwhelmingly voted Leave. Whilst Pollard was supporting the lockdown in 2020, the hypocrite called for open borders to allow EU migrants to come and work in the UK.

Labour MPs do not respect your vote, so don’t give it to their henchmen in Labour councils this May! The party would seem to have peaked in Exeter, losing seats to the Greens, and in other parts of Devon, Labour are divided with Plymouth’s sole Sikh councillor leaving the party claiming that his faith and identity were compromised and in Mid Devon, Labour members formed their own breakaway party called LIFT (Local Independents For Tiverton.) If For Britain can beat Labour in Hartlepool, we can beat them anywhere!