A Good Shepherd for the Black Sheep?

Editorial Comment

IN EARLY April 2010, YT ran an article titled: Phil Anderson: Future Tory leader. We didn’t quite realise that it would be this quick!

We ran that article because on meeting Phil for the first time on a chilly afternoon in Stanford it was clearly evident that Phil was intellectually and politically, head and shoulders above any other Conservative (in Thurrock) that we had met.

In two weeks time he could be the next leader of Thurrock Council. Some may be surprised that someone with only a years experience of being a councillor could be leader of a multi-million pound organisation.

But firstly, Phil will need to heal the rifts in his party. Even the election process will have exposed fissures and cracks. It was clear that cllr Rob Gledhill saw himself as a certainty for the job. It was only when the figure of Homesteads cllr Sue MacPherson appeared as a possible candidate that he realised what was going on.

Indeed, the east side of the borough could have had a clean sweep had Orsett councillor Mike Revell successfully bid for the deputy leadership. Ockendon councillor Amanda Arnold won through this time but “la belle dame sans merci” will not have taken kindly to the challenge.

Phil’s first task will be to persuade East Tilbury Independents John Purkiss and Barry Palmer that they can continue to work together. As John Purkiss said to YT during the election when asked about their voting patterns: “Well, maybe the Tory policies suit the people of East Tilbury”.

The next step is Concerned Conservative Iain Harrison, who Phil will hope to bring in from the cold. The same will apply to outgoing mayor Anne Cheale. Both roles will be tricky as he has become leader through the perceived political patronage of Mike Revell and so that may be a major stumbling block.

We would like to think that Phil’s cerebral form of politics would not have run a campaign such as that in Aveley on “Consigning political correctness to the dustbin of history.” a campaign that was offensive to ethnic minorities or a clumsy one which trod all over the procurement process.

Phil is a fascinating choice. It is clear that some of his Tory colleagues find his discourses difficult to follow and he may need to keep it brief for fear of losing them.

If he does form an administration then he may struggle to fill it with talent. Tunde and Sue may have mayoral duties, Barry Johnson has gone.

Once again. interesting times. It is clear that the Thurrock Tories are the black sheep of the British Conservative Party, question is whether Phil is the good shepherd to return the flock to the fold?

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