Sky’s election analyst and Exeter University lecturer, Dr Hannah Bunting, to chair South Devon Primary’s Paignton and Brixham Town Hall sessions

The founders of the South Devon Primary, a community initiative to choose one progressive candidate to unite behind at the general election, are delighted to announce that Dr Hannah Bunting will be chairing two of the seven Town Hall hustings being held over a two week period from 2 March to 16 March.

Dr Bunting is Lecturer in Quantitative British Politics at the University of Exeter and Sky News Elections Analyst. She is an expert in British elections, particularly how votes in a constituency can either be spread out across parties or concentrated around a single party, and how this impacts the outcomes of elections. Her research looks at why people do and don’t vote, including their preferences for political parties and how sure they are of this preference. Hannah also has expertise in people’s trust in politicians and how gender influences perceptions of candidates.

Dr Bunting said: 

“Many people in Britain feel dissatisfied with the way our democracy works, which is sometimes expressed as not participating in politics at all. South Devon Primary is an exciting initiative that could bring more people into politics and help them understand how they can impact elections. I’m really looking forward to being an independent chair for the events, hearing citizens’ views and how candidates respond to them – I expect to hear from people across the political spectrum and of differing walks of life. I’m pleased to be able to help a community-focused and community-led experiment in British democracy.”

Co-founder Ben Long said:

“ We were thrilled that Hannah agreed to chair the Town Hall sessions in Paignton and Brixham, two key areas of the constituency with large populations and diverse communities. Her expertise and research focus dovetails perfectly with one of the principal aims of the primary – deeper and wider political engagement in a stale seat where 100 years of dominance by the Conservatives has led to disaffection and detachment from the electorate. We think she is as enthusiastic as we are to see how the community comes together to choose a candidate to break the pattern.”

Co-founder Simon Oldridge explained:

‘We aim to make political history with this process. It’s powered by volunteers and supporters who understand that we all have to pull together to beat our broken electoral system which otherwise will see the Conservative MP re-elected on only a third of the vote. Having Hannah on board serves to emphasise the seriousness of our endeavour. She’s the perfect chair for the final session in Brixham on 16 March at which the count will be held and the People’s Champion declared. ”

The Primary process kick off in Totnes on Saturday 2 March with a fully-booked session chaired by author, activist and journalist George Monbiot. Tickets (free) are still available to book for the events in Paignton Academy on 6 March; Modbury Memorial Hall 7 March; Kingsbridge Community College, 9 March; Townstal Community Hall, Dartmouth, 10 March and Brixham College on 16 March. South Brent Village Hall on 11 March is also booked up. All tickets are free. To book, people need to be resident in the constituency and registered to vote in general elections.