LOCAL FAVOURITE TO SUCCEED SOUBRY USURPED BY WILTSHIRE COUNCILLOR. CHAOS (WITHOUT ED MILIBAND) ENSUES.
COUNCIL CHIEF EXEC RUTH HYDE USED IN CONSERVATIVE CAMPAIGN MATERIAL
The Conservative Party Conference passes with a general sense of unity with only one key member of their parliamentary party being ejected by the police after disputing the freedom of movement of his partner and committing crimes against irony; and another celebrating the arrival of Black History Month by boasting about blacking-up because you obviously didn’t get the memo that racism is alright now, cos Brexit.
Cordiality reigns as all the dissenters who might have threatened shining a beam of reality into proceedings were handily booted out the party beforehand, followed by a hi-five to Xi Jinping and Recep Erdogan for the inspiration.
Back in Broxtowe Tory circles, this bonhomie is in short supply. To understand why, let’s draw our eye again upon perennial favourite of this site, Cllr Richard Jackson: borough councillor, county councillor, former leader of the Borough Council and, now Broxtowe’s own Miss Havisham.
When Anna Soubry decided to step down to form a party founded on principles of maintaining the status quo and therefore calling it Change, a vacancy appeared in Broxtowe. With Anna out the way, busy forming a party based on shared values, compromise and cool-headedness that subsequently disintegrated due to creative differences, a plum battleground seat was all to fight for.
It should have been a coronation. Jackson has been a slavish loyalist from the get-go, willfully serving County Councillor leader Kay Cutts with the unquestioning obedience of a hired goon. He stood aside from A-List Soubry in the late noughties. Want someone to defend the most outrageously awful behaviour from Cutts-by-name? Jackson’s your man. Destroy the actual council you are the actual leader of? Certainly, Kay. While that may have been akin to sawing off the tree branch you’re sitting on, Jackson could at least look forward to falling onto an inflatable cushion that would bounce him into Parliament and all the loveliness that come with that. Like Peggy Ollerenshaw becoming a Yellow Coat, like the Trotters becoming millionaires, the dream would become reality. The gold ticket to the chocolate factory would be his.
Except there was no inflatable cushion; rather a bramble bush.
Tories, I need not remind you, are pretty damn callous.
Conservative HQ stood three contestants: Jackson, Birmingham accountant Saqib Bhatti (a candidate that Getty Images must be desperate to snap for their stock photo ‘Apprentice Contestant’) and Darren Henry, a county councillor in, errr, Wiltshire. Both paper candidates, surely? It seemed pretty much certain that Jackson would be going home with the crown. After
all, Darren Henry didn’t even make Broxtowe his first choice: he’d stood to be Conservative candidate in Kensington and Chelsea in the summer. He had already failed to become the Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire. In 2015 he had a crack at becoming MP for Wolverhampton North East, somehow dropping 4.5% in an General Elections that the Tories got their first majority in 23 years. To lose one easy election may be regarded as unfortunate, to lose two -and then some – smacks of carelessness.
Each time he told the various electorates that he was entirely devoted to whatever position he applied for “I’m not a career politician’. If you can reconcile the facts with the statement, you’re officially a genius or immensely daft.
When that fell through he swore loyalty to
Wolverhampton Wiltshire Kensington Broxtowe. Only Broxtowe. He only ever loved Broxtowe.
That’d never convince Broxtowe Tories desperate to provide the constituency with a candidate who was committed to the area, knew its singular nature, its idiosyncrasies, its strengths and its deficiencies? Know how it is vastly diverse: from the urban south to the rural north, and how that created multitudinous challenges? Jackson, for all his faults, has shed foot leather in every street and cul-de-sac, and has rapped his knuckles on doors beside the Trent to those neighbouring DH Lawrence’s birthplace. Of course, that’s what a sensible party that cares for its constituents would do. But this isn’t a sensible party. This is not a party that sees things as complex and nuanced. This is a party that is currently both polarised and rabid, bit by the Brexit Beast and now unable to see anything other than fulfilling the promise of a free unicorn for every Brit.
You see, loyalty is all well and good until the person you’re being loyal stops being loyal to the person above them on the food chain, and Anna Soubry has few friends left in the Conservative Party (to be fair, she has few friends in her own new party, of whom the few remaining MPs are only there cos Lib Dem yellow clashes with their evening wear / they went and got all new branded pens and everything and they’ve maxed out their vouchers to Rymans).
Jackson’s devotion to Soubz became toxic.
The meeting to decide the leader thus turned chaotic. There were tears-not metaphorical- actual tears. There were recriminations. The activist running the @BroxtoweConservatives Twitter account refused to carry on: they still haven’t posted since August 17th despite it being Quite A Big Story they’d selected a new PPC. Many activists and even councillors have made it clear that they’d refuse to campaign for it, and I’ve even had them leak to me: unprecedented since rumours are my photo is the dartboard choice of target in the Beeston Conservative Club. Quoteth them: “It has been horrible: it’s obvious that the numbers mean even (Jackson’s) own councillors were against him. It’s not fair and I won’t be doing the doorsteps when it comes to it’.
I never thought I’d type this, but strange days: if any other Conservative activists, councillors or otherwise, wish to contact me then firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, Darren Henry. Brexit Brexit Brexit. Broxtowe Broxtowe Broxtowe. He’s your man -hey Wiltshire! Hey Kensington and Chelsea! Hands off! He don’t love you anymore.
He’s got some catching up to do in getting his face out there. No worries! Here he is getting on fine with utterly neutral Ruth Hyde, the Chief Executive of Broxtowe Borough Council and in NO WAY WHATSOEVER biased towards the Conservatives and the way that, when in office, they had a habit of selling off the Town Hall at a bargain price to members of the same (misogynistic, homophobic) Evangelical Alliance she is a member of. And in no way is agreeing to appear in campaign material by a Conservative Candidate (who isn’t the former head of the council. Sorry, Cllr Jackson) is in any way a dubiously legal display of an apolitical stance.
I’m absolutely sure this is all a huge mistake and Henry will remove the tweet well before Hyde urgently emails him to request removal.
And yes, his account is most definitely a campaign account. It’s called @votedarrenhenry.
I get wind that the interim monitoring officer responsible for the gross mishandling of my complaint against Conservative councillors, that was upheld by the Local Government Ombudsman last month, has been given his marching orders. I feel no gloating schadenfreude at this news, rather a deep sense of disappointment that another scapegoat has been pushed forward to take a hit and thus distract from the deep rot myself and Thomas shed some light on in our investigation into the council.
If you’d like to contribute to enabling us to keep on probing and ensuring that local democracy is kept accountable and working for YOU, then we will greatly appreciate a couple of quid thrown our way. We’ll probably do it anyway, but doing it with some funds to cover the gallons of coffee we get through makes it feel a little more like we’re doing something worthwhile and not screaming into the void. Takes a minute by clicking here and accepting sincere thanks from Thomas and I.