Duncan Enright is a councillor for the Witney East ward on Witney Town Council. The town’s MP is David Cameron. Duncan is son of Derek Enright, who was a Member of the European Parliament from 1979 to 1984 and then an MP from 1991 until his death in 1995.
For the last 15 years I have lived in Witney, a lovely market town in West Oxfordshire. My three children, Katy (15), Lucy (11) and Tom (8) all go to local schools, including the outstanding Wood Green High School where my wife Sally-Ann is a teacher. I’m a publisher and like many of my neighbours I commute. However I enjoy Witney – I play football with other local dads, we go to the local Catholic church, and I work for the local Labour Party and have stood locally for many years. The highlight until now has been having local MP Shaun Woodward defecting from the Tories in 2000 and signing his Labour Party membership card in our sitting room!
Last year the Tory town councillor for Witney East, Louise Chapman, was barred from office because she didn’t turn up for six consecutive months. Odd this – they are adept at managing this sort of situation. One of the other Tories (there are four for Witney East and 15 on the council of 17, one Lib Dem who votes with them) hasn’t been seen for two years, and has got away with it.
The Tories wanted to coopt a replacement. They did the same in 2009 when the only Green stood down (found it too hard going). Despite promises to the gullible Greens, they replaced him with a Tory ex-mayor! Instead I collected the ten signatures needed to force a by-election.
The Tory constituency agent, who is also the debarred councillor’s father, railed against the expense of a by-election, and rather backed them into a corner. I took the opportunity to ram home the need for a local voice on various key local issues, which you can read about at www.duncan4witney.org. It was a great chance to state my platform, and had the advantage of being the absolute truth – these are key issues where the town councillors have done nothing, or worse still the wrong thing.
We started early, posting a letter through all doors before the nominations closed. I have the advantage of being the candidate in every election since 2007, and living right in the heart of the ward. My kids go to the local schools, my wife teaches at one, and I play football with local dads (badly). I was able to press this advantage before the Greens and Lib Dems had even decided to stand. (I did in fact write to them to ask them to stand aside in my favour, so we could challenge the Tories directly on the big local issue of a disputed £20m bypass – I’m against and the Tories are for. Subsequently the Lib Dem candidate, also against, has been abandoned by his County colleagues who voted for unanimously. Same old Lib Dems!)
To be honest, when the list closed I was disappointed not to have a Tory candidate, and also assumed that their support, which is pretty substantial locally, would naturally transfer to their mates the Lib Dems. Continue reading Guest blog from Duncan Enright: ‘Winning Labour’s first seat from the Tories in 2011’