News from British and Canadian Conservatives

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Latest score: 35-9

In the wake of May's stunning landslide that saw the Conservatives win an amazing 34 of the 46 council seats in Shepway, it didn't seem that things could get much better.

Step forward Cllr Sue Ashworth, Lib Dem representative for New Romney Coastal. The Lib Dems considered Sue to be quite a catch at the last election, highlighting her candidacy above all others on their website:

With only the Liberal Democrats amongst the main parties opposing the proposed
expansion at Lydd Airport, many people are switching to back to Lib Dems this
time across the Marsh seats - including one of our candidates in New Romney
Coast, Sue Ashworth, wife of current Tory Councillor Simon Ashworth!

For some reason, it seems that much of the local Lib Dem leadership wants to see their divisive group leader, Cllr Lynne Beaumont, to be their parliamentary candidate. At least that's something that the Lib Dems and Tories can agree on then!

The Lib Dems had hoped that the election would draw a line after a rash of splits in the party, which has seen the loss of no fewer than 24 councillors* through defections and resignations. In addition, a former Lib Dem chairman of Shepway District Council has been elected as a Conservative county and district councillor and their Parliamentary Candidate has stepped aside against his will and he and another finalist in the Folkestone & Hythe seletion have reportedly resigned from the central list of approved candidates (Folkestone Herald report).

The composition of Shepway District Council will be as follows:
Conservative 35
Lib Dem 9
People First 2

*Resignations break down as follows. 22 District Councillors: To Conservative Stan Hayward (also Hythe Town Council), Sue Ashworth; To Green Wendy Harris (also Hythe Town Council); To Shepway Independents David Callaghan; To Independent Tony Baker, Peter Smith and Christena Smith (who "suspended" their membership due to fraud allegations and sought re-election with no party affiliation bu no Lib Dem opponents); To People First Linda Cufley (also KCC), Trevor Buss, Peter Gane (also FTC; defected back to Lib Dem), Gary George, Janet Andrews, Kim Culshaw, Richard Green (also sat as Independent and Green before resigning as a councillor, then standing for People First again in May), Paul Marsh (also FTC), Brian Copping (also KCC), Terry Preston, Shirley Maile, Carol Crees; resigned as councillors Gill Jenkins (due to husband's benefits fraud using forms bearing her signature), John Hughes; Tessa Caruana (who waited until after she had stood down from the council in May's elections before publicly resigning from the party). In addition two Hythe Town Councillors became Independents, bringing the total to 24 individuals holding 31 elected positions.


Anonymous said...

Are you going to press for a by election in Ashworth's seat like your national party called for with your former mp's previous switch to labour?

and by the way i am sickened by your obession with the lib dems,
very punch and judy!
If they are not a threat to you why do you waste so much of your time talking about them, us bloggers around the country think you have gone a bit mad,
talk about your own party or whats the point of having conservative every where!

Dan Hassett said...

I'd rather that there was no politics in local government, but that's not going to happen. Instead,, I tend to look upon party politics in local government as a bit of a circus. Every good circus needs clowns - in local government, they're called the Liberal Democrats.

It always troubles me when an elected representative switches sides, but I don't believe that resignation should be compulsory. That would hand even more power to the whips and strengthen the party against the individual, which would not be a good move. Ultimately, it has to be down to the individual councillor/MP to decide whether they are doing the right thing for their constituents.

In the particular case of New Romney Coastal, the entire campaign was about the expansion of the Airport, which Sue Ashworth and the Lib Dems opposed, but the Conservative candidates broadly supported. Given that Sue has been given the freedom to oppose the airport (as has her Conservative husband), I doubt that there will be much concern on the doorsteps of Littlestone. In fact, I suspect that the vast majority of residents would prefer to be spared a by-election. Clearly, I don't live in Littlestone and I've never actually spoken to Sue Ashworth, so I think that I will have to leave the decision to her and the local people.

I'm intrigued and amazed that bloggers around the country have an opinion of me, let alone thing that I've gone a bit mad. They must have amazing skills as psychologists to deduce that without even meeting me - perhaps they should offer their services to the NHS rather than blogging?

I've looked over the front page of my blog and can find no references to the Lib Dems except where their actions are directly related to the Conservative Party. A defection to Conservative is a Conservative matter in my book. It does contain several items in support of the Conservatives, conservatism and Conservative policy.

At least you are able to see the Conservative branding though. I regularly receive comments from confused Lib Dems who think that my blog is supposed to be politically neutral.

Anonymous said...

Discraceful is what many in Littlestone think. Being elected as a LIb Dem then 7 weeks, yes seven, swopping to another party with different policies If I was an elector from Littlestone I would want a by-election. Shows dear old Dans disregard to democracy.