THE FORMER Mayor of Thurrock cllr Ian Harrison has launched a scathing attack on local Conservatives after his expulsion from the party last week.
In documents seen by YourThurrock, the Corringham and Fobbing councillor seems to believe that in-fighting and factionalism have cost the group power in Thurrock Council.
YourThurrock understands that cllr Harrison was expelled for refusing to campaign for Stephen Metcalfe and Jackie Doyle Price in the May general election as well as absenting himself from the chamber when Mayor Anne Cheale tabled a motion of no confidence in their leader, Garry Hague. All charges that, we understand, he continues to deny vigorously.
In a passionate defence of Tory principles, the statement refers to why he joined the party in the first place.
‘I am proud to have been a member of the Conservative Party for over fifty years. I have always believed in defending the liberties of our country, in working to defend the rights of individuals and communities under the law, in assisting those most in need of help without penalising everyone through excessive controls, taxation and regulation and in working with others inside and outside the party to make Britain a better place.”
The statement then goes on to assert that the in-fighting started just after the groups surprise victory in 2004.
“In 2004, efforts were made to undermine Anne Cheale’s authority and to advance the personal aims and ambitions of others, regardless of how far they served the interests of the people of our borough.
“Factionalism has grown and the group has become increasingly divided and ineffective. If we had done our work with proper respect for one another, we should not have lost credibility or control last spring.”
Cllr Harrison joins a long list of “Tory rebels” who have left the group. Terry Hipsey went to the Labour group; Kay Hipsey went to UKIP; Anne Cheale and Stuart St-Clair-Haslam went to the Concerned Conservatives. Ian Harrison may well join them.
YourThurrock contacted Tory leaders Garry Hague and Amanda Arnold but they have not replied at the time of going to press.
1. To make an omlette, first you got to break a few eggs……..
Chair of South Basildon and East Thurrock Assocation, Mike Revell is widely admired for his organisational skills. The present situation may appear to be a purge but it was Mike who made sure Pauline Tolson defeated Tony Benson in 2007, Danny Nicklen defeated Gordon Gambier in 2008 and Phil Anderson defeated Phil Smith in 2010.
With ambitious, able and astute candidates such as Mark Coxshall and Shane Hebb waiting in the wings, many believe that Mike’s “Perestroika” is the best chance of the Tories winning back power. With Labour struggling to even find candidates, a certain ruthlessness may be necessary.
2. The question is, what about the West?
Many will look at the charges levelled against Ian Harrison with respect of the General Election campaign and ask whether the same charges could have been considered appropriate for John Cowell, Amanda Wilton, Wendy Herd and Steven Veryard.
This particular reporter recalls the visit of Andrew Mitchell MP to Rates Ford in Hogg Lane. As Jackie Doyle Price stood there with only the hard working Charlie Key and Eddie Hardiman for company, we felt JDP didn’t seem to have much chance of winning the election. Clearly nor did most of those in the Thurrock Tory association.
At 4.56pm on that Friday, Jackie looked like a lost orphan. By 9am on Friday May 7th she appeared to have the biggest extended family in Thurrock. It is a comparison, not lost on Jackie.
Rob Gledhill, Joy Redsell and Ben Maney were staunch and loyal foot soldiers but others let themselves and the party down badly.
Indeed, since then, John Cowell has only attended one council meeting and many have questioned whether we will see a Aveley by-election before too long.
However what binds them together is ironically the heart of the problem: they are not, to a man, Conservatives. They may not know Edmund Burke, Robert Peel, Michael Oakeshott or Ian Gilmour if they hit them over the head with Maggie Thatcher’s handbag.
They may, as one Tory themselves described them as “simply fellow travellers bound together for a touch of social climbing and a new frock at the civic awards”. Harsh words indeed but that is a Tory describing Tories and not, we stress our own.
What is revealed in Ian Harrison’s statement is a fundamental understanding of Conservative principles. His problems is that he crossed the Machiavelli of Bulphan and has paid the price.
3. Who is next?
Mike Revell appears to have got it in his mind that “Nice Guy” Eddie Hardiman took away his chance of becoming Deputy Mayor this year and so ending any chance of ending his political career as Mayor of Thurrock in 2011.
He may have in his mind that Eddie is at worst “not one of us and not to be trusted”. Eddie is up for re-election in Stanford next year. YourThurrock understands that the association are keeping him dangling and have yet to fully endorse his candidacy.
To many it is not beyond the realms of possibility that Eddie may consider his position. If there is one word to describe Eddie, then is is “survivor”. You understimate him at your peril.
Where would we be without the Thurrock Tories? They may well come back. The east is under control. The west may well be sorted. There are winnable seats in May 2011 and they also have a threadbare Labour group who, as each meeting proves, have a few very classy performers followed by a very long tail indeed (and we haven’t even mentioned Belhus)
To be continued……