Friday, February 3, 2023

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.


  1. With her experience she will do wonders improving relationships between officers and elected members.

    I wonder what her views are about the so called fake minutes that suggested certain Tories were considering not standing Tory candidates in Tilbury to let the BNP in, She was very silent on the issue. I wonder why?

    I wonder is Councillor Ojetola will vote for her?

  2. If this was a comedy sketch it would be a classic, but it is not, this is the Thurrock Tories who represent Thurrock residents and hope to take control of the council.

    The reality of Sue putting her hat in the ring shows that the division is deeper than the one that is already evident in meetings and when chatting to individual tory councillors.

    Over the last four years you have had the seperate groups but until they lost control of the council last May the IKEA 6 were untouchable. In the last couple of years you have seen a new breed in the party and they feel ready to mark their turf, when Anderson entered the group last year the young ones had found their leader……..

    Whoever wins the leadership battle tonight they will not take up the mantle knowing they have the backing of the rest of the tories in the chamber.

    If Anderson wins there is absolutely no chance that Gledhill and the old school will support him and the new approach to politics he would bring to the thurrock tory party. Since entering the chamber last year he has been head and shoulders above the rest of them but they never see what he was up to and that his sights were clearly set on the leaders position. He has put in some good performances but ready to take control we will see.

    Gledhill will be feeling that he has been double crossed here. He has spent the last year talking up a leader that was wounded but refused to give up the battle and now the chances are he will be over looked for his moment of glory by somebody with no real experience of the council. Gledhill will know that if he misses out tonight he will never get another chance of leader.

    Sue is the big outsider here but then we all know that she is a clever girl and should not be overlooked, she will not have taken this decision lightly. She sits very nicely between the two camps and has the experience of the chamber and council which Phil lacks and she does not have the arrogance of Gledhill. But maybe she is just manouvering for a deputy leaders position and is sitting with her phone in hand all day today waiting for Anderson or Gledhill to call.

    Whatever way it goes there will be fun and games in the Tory camp over the next year or two.

  3. What is actually funny is that John Kent has now led his party into five elections and failed to win the council each. I think that should tell him and Labour something.

    The only reason Labour have the administration is because they secured the defection of an individual who jumped ship when he knew his party were about to dump him as leader. They also won the support of the BNP, plus several other self-serving councillors (one of whom has just been told by the electorate what they think of him in Stanford West).

    That’s what I call a joke.


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