COUNTY NEWS: Man calls for 2020 election date change due to VE day clash

Neil Coppendale has called on MPs to change the date
Neil Coppendale has called on MPs to change the date

A history enthusiast from Sussex has written to MPs urging them to vote to change the date of the 2020 general election, which he says will overshadow the 75th anniversary of VE day.

It may be four years away, but Neil Coppendale from Shoreham has noticed that the next election falls on Thursday, May 7, the day before the anniversary of VE day on Friday, May 8 – which marks the end of the Second World War.

The 71-year-old semi-retired writer and broadcaster said VE commemorations should be ‘leading the news’, arguing: “It simply isn’t good enough that this most important anniversary will be overshadowed by the events of the previous day.

“It could be said that the freedom to vote in elections was won by the Allies of the Second World War.”

He added that in 2020: “There won’t be many veterans still with us but even if there’s only one, we should take the fullest advantage to thank them one last time.”

On why he started the campaign, Neil said: “I’m in absolute awe of that generation. Their sacrifice, fortitude and bravery stands as an example to us all.”

It simple isn’t good enough that this most important anniversary will be overshadowed by the events of the previous day

Neil Coppendale

Last year, Neil set up a petition after discovering that by the beginning of February – just three months before the 70th anniversary of VE day – no celebratory events has been organised.He said his efforts were ‘quite effective’, with many events subsequently being planned.

Neil believes changing the election date ‘is not as difficult as some people think’, but Tim Loughton, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, said: “I have written extensively on Mr Coppendale’s behalf to the Defence Secretary but this is highly unlikely to change as it is governed by the Fixed terms Parliament Act and not something that the Government can now change without legislation – which is highly unlikely.”

Yet Neil added: “Even if it’s not successful, it should produce greater awareness.”

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