Stalking horse set to enter Tory leadership stakes

INTRIGUE, passion, deceit, suspicion, conspiracy, victory and defeat. We were filming with the Royal Opera House last night and our minds turned to the grand guignol that is Tory politics in Thurrock.

It has been a while since we have used the term stalking horse. It obviously has classical origins but became popular in Tory parlance after Sir Anthony Meyer challenged Margaret Thatcher for the leadership of the Conservative Party in 1990.

The leadership election for the new Tory leader takes place on Wednesday evening.

It had been expected to be a two horse race. That race itself illustrated a level of factionalism that has bedevilled the group since the seventies.

Rob Gledhill representing the west of the borough and Phil Anderson the east. The voting may not turn out that way (it never does) and is even less likely if former deputy leader, Sue MacPherson enters the fray.

Popular Sue has been low key over the past year. Setting up a new business has taken a lot of her energy but she was a popular deputy. Sue was also a very popular portolio holder for education. People from both groups would like her as well. Where there could be discord, Sue could bring harmony.

The question is: who will bring their votes over. Some in the Ockendon area may be mulling over their options. There is a belief that Barry Johnson didn’t get the support he should of and that may be reflected in their voting pattern.

Rob Gledhill will drive through the proposed amendments and will be a faithful exponent of the cuts directed from central government. The concerns are that he may drive a wedge between councillors and officers. Bottom line is nobody is going to work harder than Rob.

Phil Anderson although only a councillor for one year, brings an immeasurable intellect and forensic thinking to the job. He is the person, John Kent wold least like to face in the chamber). The intellectual curve balls may keep coming and coming. A deeply christian man he may need to study his Persian philosophy which has as one of its central tenets that “Doubt is the key to knowledge.”

Labour re-elected their leader weeks ago. No fuss and no rancour. The Tories, whatever choice they make will need to get behind the leader and unify. This could be their last chance.

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