A GRASSROOTS group of political campaigners in Newton Abbot are making efforts to rally opposition voters around a single candidate ahead of the next election so as to defeat the Conservatives.

With opposition votes divided among several candidates, it is more than likely that, come the next general election, the Conservatives will retain the Newton Abbot constituency, which has been held by MP Anne Marie Morris since its creation in 2010.

But this need not be the case if only the opposition vote united and backed a single candidate, which is exactly the rallying cry of Newton Abbot Primary.

The group are calling for unity among opposition voters; in practical terms, this means backing one of the three so-called ‘progressive’ candidates: Green, Labour or Liberal Democrat.

‘We are are tired of tribalism in the centre and left of politics’ a spokesperson for Newton Abbot Primary said.

‘We will support whichever candidate - Labour, Lib Dem or Green - who has the best chance of victory’ the spokesperson added.

To decide on the candidate the group will be holding a ‘primary’.

Put simply, a primary is a means by which voters can indicate their preference in candidate ahead of an election; it is most commonly associated with the United States of America, though primaries occur in European politics also.

Newton Abbot Primary plan to visit town halls across the Newton Abbot constituency and hold questions and answers sessions with the three progressive candidates.

At the end of each session, those in the audience will vote for the candidate they think stands the best chance of defeating the Conservatives; come the final town hall meeting, the votes will be added and the ‘People’s Champion’ announced.

It should be mentioned, however, that Newton Abbot Primary are by no means asking for the candidates who lose the primary to be removed from the ballot.

The impetus behind Newton Abbot Primary’s actions is a dissatisfaction with the first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting system.

The FPTP system has been used to elect members to the House of Commons since the Middle Ages.

It is by far the simplest voting system, voters cast a vote for a single candidate, and the candidate with the most votes wins the election.

Many take issue with FPTP for it allows for persons to be elected off the back of having only received a minority of the total votes cast.

For example, Candidate A receives 30 votes where 100 votes were cast. Candidates B, C, D and E receive 20, 15, 15 and 20 respectively.

And so, in spite of the majority not voting for them, Candidate A is duly elected.

Newton Abbot Primary came into being following the South Devon Primary, which saw Liberal Democrat candidate, Caroline Voaden, win 78 per-cent of the 1,072 votes cast.

She is now the ‘People’s Champion’ for the constituency, which has been held by Sir Gary Streeter, a Conservative, since 1997.

The dates for Newton Abbot Primary’s town hall events have yet to be announced, visit the group’s website for more information.