Well, that didn’t go very well, did it? Across the nation, the Conservative Party enjoyed fabulous election results last week, so what went so wrong here? Council leader, Dave Stewart lost his seat, but was that really his fault? The omni-present David Pugh is chairman of the local Tory party and it was he who masterminded the dismal Island campaign. After the PFI and school reorganisation fiasco, the electorate booted Pugh off the council. You’d have thought the Tories would have got the message, but like Frankenstein’s monster, he remains very much alive and in control.
MP, Bob ‘half a sausage’ Seely also took an active role in the defective campaign, generously spending a whole Saturday afternoon rushing around the island, recording endorsements for each candidate. These mini-Ads were accompanied by a bizarre weather forecast. If you missed the weird little vignettes before polling day, they’re well worth searching out on social media. In the clips Bob has the air of a game show host, hurrying the contestant along before an imminent commercial break. Bob’s haste, which as always, may have been caused by his need to catch a ferry to get somewhere important, seemed to flummox some of the Tory contenders. Some appeared confused about exactly what they had to offer. But in any event, Bob’s seal of approval proved the kiss of death for many of them.
In his little videos, Bob implored us all to support Conservatives, ‘to prevent a coalition of chaos’ at County Hall. Just days later, without blinking, chutzpah Bob was urging all newly elected councillors to create his previously feared coalition – by supporting the Tories to help them retain control of the council!
Whatever happens next, David Pugh should have some serious questions to answer from the Tory membership. They fund the local party’s campaigns and undoubtedly some will not be pleased with the way it went. When a sitting councillor refuses to stand again and endorses someone other than the Tory selected to replace him, something has gone seriously wrong. In Binstead, that sitting councillor was John Kilpatrick, who openly said Pugh was controlling the council. which could explain why Dave Stewart refused to comment on anything at all during the campaign – unless it had been cleared first.
Ex-councillor Kilpatrick, who’s a decent bloke said: “Behind the scenes it is David Pugh who controls the Conservative representation on the IW Council, which I think is totally wrong and undermines the current leader of the Conservatives. That is why I have supported the Independent Ian Dore for Binstead & Fishbourne .” Thankfully ‘Knocka’ Dore, won the seat, despite Tory attempts to discredit him, a tactic they tried elsewhere too.
Richard Quigley is a thoroughly decent chap too, at the general election he fought Bob, standing for Labour. Quigley lives in Gurnard but has a business in Cowes, where he stood for council. In their mainland-printed leaflets, the Tories tried claiming he wasn’t local, but the good people of Cowes saw through the smoke and mirrors and elected him anyway.
David Pugh may have yet another problem, the new Tory supremo in County Hall is Steve Hastings. When the Island is split into two parliamentary constituencies, like Pugh, I’ll wager Hastings will be angling to become the other Tory hopeful. So maybe he’ll be his own man and run the council himself. Let’s hope so. But whatever their relationship now, I’ll wager before long they’ll be fighting like rats in a sack.