Father and daughter go head-to-head in election
IAN Neill plans to walk his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day – but is likely to then stop talking to her.
That is because the bride-to-be, Clare Neill, is also focused on stopping him being elected to Derbyshire County Council, by standing herself in the same Petersham division of Long Eaton.
Ian, 71, is the representative for the Liberal Democrats, while 39-year-old Clare has been put forward by Labour – with both parties keen to oust Tory Garry Hickton from the seat.
The only thing they agree on is Councillor Hickton. Ian and Clare both feel he should be beaten in the polls on May 2.
Apart from that, the father and daughter have little in common politically.
The pair have fallen out before over politics, not least when the Lib Dems joined forces with the Conservatives to force Labour out of Downing Street.
But the weeks leading up to the county council election are set to be the sternest test of their relationship.
Clare, whose wedding on April 6 is a day before her 40th birthday, says she plans to make it a triple celebration by being elected to County Hall just a few weeks later.
She said: "I'm planning to win the election and then shake hands with my dad. It'd be nice to then go for a drink with him, to show there's no hard feelings... but he'll be buying!"
It is the first time Clare, who joined Labour as a teenager, has stood in the county council elections.
She was elected to Erewash Borough Council two years ago, having left her job as a communications officer in the NHS to enter the world of politics.
Ian – a retired telephone engineer who is now secretary of Petersham Hall and heavily involved in a 50-plus group, plus the Long Eaton Indian Association – has far more experience of elections. Since 1983, he has stood every two years in either the borough or county elections, but has never won.
"I think part of the problem is the Lib Dems are only a small party in Derbyshire," he said.
"We don't have enough people on the ground to help with campaigning."
Although they'll be out canvassing in the same streets, they won't be going out together.
Clare said: "I'm willing to take some leaflets off his hands. I'm not promising they'll be delivered though.
"It's going to be fun. We've fallen out before over politics and not spoken to each other. In the end we just agree to differ."
Stuck between the two is Pam Neill, Ian's wife of 41 years and Clare's mother – but her loyalties are not torn. "I vote Labour," she said.
"The Lib Dems are not firm enough in my mind. What Ian does, he does seriously and I've got to respect that.
"I just don't believe in what he believes in.
"But I'd rather have him than a Tory!"
As for having anything to declare, Clare said her record is untarnished.
But Ian does have some past shame.
"I did vote for Chris Huhne to be the leader of the Lib Dems," he confessed.
"Given he has now resigned over lying about speeding points, my judgement was perhaps not the best."
Whether taking on his own flesh and blood at a local election is any wiser, he'll soon find out.