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Weekly editor and lifelong Tory to stand for UKIP

Neil SpeightA weekly newspaper editor and lifelong Conservative is to stand for UKIP in the forthcoming local elections.

Neil Speight, who edits the Enquirer series in Essex and East London, is standing as a candidate for Thurrock Council next month, after claiming the Tory Party has “lost touch” with voters.

Neil, left, was asked to stand for UKIP in the council’s Corringham and Fobbing ward after its original candidate withdrew for personal reasons.

The ward is currently held by the Conservatives.

Speaking to Your Thurrock, Neil said: “At the end of the day there comes a point in time when, if you believe in something, you’ve got to stick your head above that parapet and give it a go.”

Neil went on to criticise Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne, claiming the current Tory Party had “lost touch”.

He added: “It’s not my Conservative Party at the moment. I think it’s deeply fractured.

“I hope and pray that it will come together, I think Conservatism has done this country well in the past. It just needs a kick up the backside and maybe people like me doing something different will be that kick up the backside.”

In Corringham and Fobbing, he will face Labour candidate Vincent Offord and Conservative Aaron Watkins.

Neil launched the Enquirer series – which runs editions for Thurrock, Essex and East London – after leaving the Newsquest-owned Thurrock Gazette in 2009.

He previously edited the East Riding Gazette, Holderness Gazette, Wakefield Express Series, Scarborough Evening News and Suffolk Free Press.

11 comments

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  • April 15, 2016 at 11:02 am
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    The idea of someone running a weekly paper with nailed-on party colours fill me with horror.
    What about impartiality?
    Tory, now UKIP – wonder what his next affiliation will be?

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  • April 15, 2016 at 12:12 pm
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    WTF is a newspaper editor, supposed to be responsible for making sure his publication reports events fairly, accurately, without fear or favour, doing standing for a political party? Like he’s going to be able to report the council meetings totally neutrally, right?
    I had to check the date to make sure it isn’t April 1. But, sadly, it isn’t.

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  • April 15, 2016 at 2:21 pm
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    As a lifelong journalist who has kept his political views to himself and always tried to be fair to all shades of politics, I find this editor fills me with horror. Indeed, I’m ashamed on his behalf.
    What on earth is he thinking of?
    The owners of the paper need to lean heavily on him as a matter of urgency.

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  • April 15, 2016 at 2:58 pm
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    Of course, no newspapers have a political affiliation do they?
    No journalist supports a political party or votes in elections do they?
    Journalists are not allowed a free mind are they?
    As it happens, if I were to win the seat, in all probability I will be standing down as editor, I am due to retire anyway.
    If newspapers (and their publishers) showed the passion and commitment to local issues that I have over many years of editing newspapers totally neutrally (and winning industry plaudits and praise from politicians all all hues) then the industry might not be the mess it’s in. Might I also point out that the vast bulk of regional newspapers started life espousing a particular political viewpoint.
    Just because I hold a viewpoint one way or the other doesn’t mean I can’t edit a neutral paper that treats everyone equally. Good local journalism is about caring for the communities you serve, getting involved and making a difference. My son’s been a Labour councillor for several years, I have very good friends in both the Conservative and Labour parties who respect my honesty and integrity and before I agreed to stand I spoke to the political leaders of the two main parties in Thurrock, who said they had no problem and trusted me to be fair and honest at all times. I have won that respect by editing newspapers in this Borough since 2004. The fact I have a political viewpoint comes as no surprise to them! .
    Sorry if I’ve risen to the bait but stupid pompous comments by people who haven’t even got the guts to put their real names to them get my goat.
    PS: Although I am not religious I’m a governor at a local Church of England School, does that mean I can’t write about Catholicism or Islam?. I was an elected governor at a local hospital trust for some years, it didn’t mean I couldn’t slam its inefficiency and waste.
    It’s what you do and what actions that shape you, not being pigeon-holed by people who live in a theoretical non-real world!

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  • April 15, 2016 at 3:46 pm
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    Neil, I specifically put editor of a ‘weekly’ as we all know the nationals do have political agendas.
    I expect a strictly neutral stance in local journalism and you claim to be impartial and neutral – when the facts scream the opposite.
    Your UKIP affiliations show a passion for blaming everything on Europe and immigration. A champion of open minded opinion!

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  • April 15, 2016 at 4:38 pm
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    I’m struggling to think of any other examples where local editors have stood for political office but at least Neil is being completely up front about his views. Readers will be able to make up their own minds in that context.

    A great season for The Rocks too, eh Neil?

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  • April 18, 2016 at 6:24 am
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    I’m confused, he talks about ‘ my conservative party’ and needing a ‘kick up the backside’ as if he’s jumping into the UKIP camp to shake them up from another angle then will jump back out and into the Tory boat once it meets his conservative expectations?
    Either way he has to choose,political aspirations or editor of a provincial paper, I don’t care what he says about impartiality you cannot do both and expect be taken seriously in a local community.
    With UKIP of all parties he is setting himself up to be knocked so it’s more a case of the paper being tarred as a UKIP mouthpiece than anything to do with his pledge to be impartial or his ‘award winning’ plaudit laden career. The owners need to decide, him or their reputation and credibility in the local area, you can’t have both

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  • April 18, 2016 at 10:09 am
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    When I was training as a reporter we were even leaned on to resign any party memberships for fear of a perceived conflict of interest, never mind standing as a candidate. And despite all Neil’s flannel about being able to maintain balance, it might well be argued – by me, certainly – that someone prepared to put themselves up for a party as demonstrably uninterested in facts as the Ukips has little or no idea what balance means anyway. Resign now, if you’re going, and then stand.

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  • April 18, 2016 at 3:07 pm
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    Back in 1995, I was shortlisted to become a PPC at the next general election, but was warned by my then employer that this was in conflict with the terms of my job and I would have to consider my position, should I be selected.
    Having a young family to support, I talked it over with my wife and decided to withdraw from the selection process.
    I’m not sure I would have been selected to fight the election, but the chosen candidate went on to win in 1997 and only stood down before last year’s general election.
    However, you mustn’t go through life thinking “what if?”

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  • May 13, 2016 at 8:43 am
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    As a postscript to the story and comments, as I pointed out at the time there was no question of the newspaper ever being other than neutral. At the end the campaign (which saw a Torywin) and post election I received messages from both my political ‘rivals’ commenting on a fair, honest and clean campaign and that the newspaper in no way veered from its position of neutrality. And as I had indicated would be happening I have also retired from the paper! I have no regrets about standing, it was done for a reason and at the end of a long and campaigning career in journalism I can look myself in the mirror with my integrity intact and, I hope, a good reputation and a legacy of having done all in my power to do my best for our industry and the journalistic profession.

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