Early in July I posted this about Leominster MP Bill Wiggin and his supposedly open meeting for constituents to question him about his expense claims. The meeting was clearly not open as many constituents who tried to gain access were barred.
As a result of that post, one of Mr Wiggin's constituents, Ray Borge got in touch with me by e-mail. He was prevented from attending the meeting and has provided the following synopsis of what happened from his perspective and some detail about what he and fellow constituents hope to do about it:
Held in the local Conservative Club. An intimidatory tactic & it only holds 150 people, so ensuring many would be locked out, but Tory members would be there in the majority (they were told to come early).Supposed to have been a public meeting, yet the local press were not informed, but Tory members were, because one let slip they had all been told when he thanked the chairman for e-mailing him about it.At 4pm when many would still be at work.3 scruffy bouncers on the door as I walked in, another intimidatory tactic.Not recognised as a Tory party member so a Tory activist blocked my entrance at the door & asked for my name & address, despite my showing my driving licence ID as proof I lived in the constituency. He then wrote this down on a clipboard (pure dictatorship tactics).People still trying to get in after meeting had begun but Wiggin shouted to them because of H&S regulations they couldn't let anymore in. But the YouTube clip (see below) clearly shows Tory town councillor, Brig Peter Jones still letting in those who say they are Tory supporters. The guy with the black jacket & satchel is the guy who found the clip & posted it on YouTube.Result was approx 90% at the meeting were Tory supporters.Wiggin was asked through a window by people locked out why he hadn't booked the much bigger leisure centre (the venue they used to select him in 2001). He replied with a smirk to his many supporters inside, 'How was I to know so many would turn up, do I have a crystal ball?'When asked did he think he was morally justified claiming expenses of £1,300 mortgage payments & £400 for food per MONTH when many in the area don't even earn that amount he replied, 'Yes, I am'.When asked why he did not downsize from his £900,000 London home to ease the burden on the taxpayer he replied, 'Other people can live like that, I can't!'As a result of all this, along with other like-minded townsfolk we have started a Leominster Independents Group. Totally independent of Independents on the councils or any party our aim is to overturn Wiggin's 13,000 majority at the next election & work towards town council reforms.
I think the best way for constituents to get rid of Bill Wiggin is to vote for Lucy Hurds, our excellent Lib Dem candidate. The Lib Dems were second placed at the last election are are best placed to take the seat from him.
Also, I must make it clear that Mr Wiggin did not need a crystal ball as he so flippantly said. As I mentioned in my previous post, this meeting took place 5 days after Andrew MacKay's meeting in my own constituency where hundreds of people turned up. He should have known 150 places would not be enough and I think there is a very strong case for suspecting he did and that he restricted places deliberately.
The worst thing is that it seems to have worked. Mr Wiggin's position as MP and candidate at the next election seems secure and David Cameron has backed him. But as the comments above and the YouTube video show the meeting was a joke. I think Ray raises some very important issues and I would be interested to hear what other Tory members think about the tactics used here.
I think Mr Wiggin needs to call another meeting where he can be properly held to account.
YouTube video of the meeting referenced above: