Editorial Comment: Tories: Where Do They Go From Here?

THE FACTS are that the Thurrock Tories are now a minority administration: 23 Labour, 22 Tories, 1 Indep Conservative, 2 Independents and 1 BNP.

It appears that they may still rely on the votes of East Tilbury Independents Barry Palmer and John Purkiss.

It  also appears that Garry Hague has lost the confidence of BNP Councillor Emma Colgate who made a withering attack on his leadership.It seems the crucial moment for her was the discussion at the General Services Committee and the ad for a new Assistant Chief Executive. It is clear that she was not happy with the Interim Chief’s assertion: “If you withdraw this ad, then the impact will be huge.” Right or wrong, the councillor, like her colleagues on the Planning Committee did not take kindly at being held to “ransom” by a council officer.

The issue of the Semi-Detached Tory, Cllr Ian Harrison may have to be addressed. His decision to absent himself from the vote of no confidence motion was farcical and although he believed it was his democratic right. It was another huge blow to the Hague leadership.

Was Cllr Stuart St-Clair-Haslam being theatrical when it was his turn to vote for or against and he uttered: “Aaaa..gainst.” He was either bigging up his role or betrayed an uncertainty that has been evident outside the chamber.

The Tories did well to once again to show solidarity in the chamber. It was a good move to have all the prospective council candidates also in the gallery garnering support.

The speeches in support of Garry Hague were warm especially from Sue MacPherson but on message is on message . Garry Hague’s speech was for his political life. At the end of it, some Tories applauded but others such as Cllrs’ Neil Rockcliffe and John Cowell sat there with their arms folded. Calculated or just poor social skills. Who knows?

Look at David Cameron’s speech on sunday: Speaking without notes with applauding ministers and a rainbow coalition of Tory faithful on camera and emphatic in their support.

The “Ngage controversy” won’t have won them any favours and may well cost a lot of votes come May 6th. The Tories had a cogent argument but were swept away by a PR campaign by the community. This has happened on far too many occasions from Chafford Primary to Corringham Car Parking to the Binmen. Someone somewhere needs to reflect on their PR.

When Cllrs Tunde Ojetola and Sue MacPherson praised Chafford Hundred school, should they have considered that Cllr Morris had spotted that their political off stump was showing. The devastating Chris Tomlinson letter: “As a Principal I feel that the Local Authority is a barrier to us and if I could move the school out of Thurrock’s catchment area, I would.” left all three stumps shattered on the ground.

The question remains whether Portfolio Holders were upset at being exposed at making a speeches explaining a funding cut and then having the rug pulled away as Labour called for amendments?

The key issue is that all 22 Tories and members of both associations will now be left with a choice. Work as hard as possible over the next two months, harder than they have ever done before or face a stark reality that on May 7th, Portfolio Holders may have to go home and explain to their families that there is £10,000 or more less coming into the bank account.

As for Labour. Leader John Kent has stated that they will not be issuing a vote of non confidence in Garry Hague every month. Labour are using that well worn phrase: “We don’t intrude on private grief” then again they also use a line, when reporters can’t get hold of many of their underwhelming councillors, “They are working hard behind the scenes” Hmmm….

Many might consider that just like the national picture people might look at the current incumbents and consider: Better the devil you know.

As YourThurrock reporters attended at the opening of the new Gateway Boxing Club in Corringham, the Tories came to mind. Since 2004, they have had a remarkable ability to stay on their feet, take the low blows and when the sucker punch lands, refuse to fall to the canvas.

It has been an exhausting but fascinating week. It looks like it will be a remarkable couple of months.

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