Exmouth ex-diplomat fights election on Lib Dem ticket

Lib Dem PPC Stuart Mole with former candidate Cllr Tim Dumper

Lib Dem PPC Stuart Mole with former candidate Cllr Tim Dumper - Credit: Archant

The fight to become East Devon’s next MP is now a four-horse race, after Exmouth academic and retired diplomat Stuart Mole was picked to stand as the Lib Dem candidate.

Mr Mole, of Sarlsdown Road, won the Lib Dem nomination to contest the General Election on May 7.

A self-employed writer, Mr Mole is a senior research fellow at London University and a part-time doctoral student at Exeter University.

An experienced political operator and a former Commonwealth diplomat, charity director and teacher, he was a Liberal Democrat borough councillor for 15 years.

He was parliamentary candidate in Chelmsford, Essex, five times between 1974 and 1987.

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In every one of those elections, he came within 5,000 votes of beating the Tory MP.

And, in 1987, he came within a whisker - 378 votes - of unseating Conservative cabinet minister Lord Norman St John-Stevas, the then-Leader of the House of Commons.

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Stuart, who lives with his partner and young daughter, has been an active ‘Save Rolle’ campaigner, sings with the Exmouth Choral Society and the church choir at St Margaret’s, Topsham.

He told the Journal that six months ago he ‘had little thought’ that he would once again stand for Parliament, although he shared many people’s disgust at the expenses scandal, the duplicity of many politicians and the ‘dreariness of knockabout politics’.

He said: “And yet, by the end of last year, I had come to the conclusion that, as a country, we were facing serious challenges that could threaten the nation’s recovering prosperity and its public services.

“Challenges that could threaten its sense of social justice and fair play; its openness and tolerance; and the part it needs to play within Europe and in the wider world, not least in tackling climate change.”

He added: “East Devon needs a strong local voice, and a better deal for its communities, but it is also vital to be part of the national and international debate.

“I am looking forward to meeting as many local residents as I can and hearing their concerns as we carry that debate forward.”

The Chairman of East Devon Liberal Democrats, Tim Dumper, said: “At recent general elections in this constituency, the Liberal Democrats have been the main challenger, with 30 per cent of the vote.

“In what promises to be a very fluid election, we aim to mount the strongest challenge yet to the Conservatives.” Other candidates: Andrew Chapman (UKIP), Hugo Swire (Conservative) and Claire Wright (Independent).

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