• A Week Is A Long Time...

    The Moorlander
    15 May 2019

    It was Harold Wilson who is credited with the observation that a week is a long time in politics. That has certainly been true over the last 7 days.

    On Thursday 2nd May a large number of electors went to the polls up and down England in local council elections. The results for the two main parties were not good. My party, the Conservatives, lost a large number of seats even though we made important gains in the north against Labour.

    The Labour Party whom John McDonald, Labour’s shadow Chancellor, had been confidently predicting would gain 400 seats plus was having
    to explain little more than 24 hours later why they had lost the best part of 100. The main beneficiaries were the Lib Dems, Independents and Greens. Across Devon a number of very hard working, totally committed Conservative councillors lost their seats and I want to pay tribute to them all.

    They did not deserve to lose on Thursday last – they deserved to win. My constituency covers parts of 4 local district councils. Conservatives in Teignbridge, Mid Devon, East Devon and West Devon have spent the last 4 years running efficient and effective councils whilst keeping council tax low. They have placed a strong focus on high service levels, affordable housing, supporting local business and the environment. Until a few weeks ago my assumption had been that all these efforts would be rewarded with success at the ballot box – that they would be returned on the basis of the fantastic work that they undertook as part of councils were actually running and taking the decisions that matter even though it is not, of course, easy being in office – it is far easier being in opposition and critical of others.

    But what changed was something out of their control; the failure to leave the EU on March 29th. The date has been extended to the end of October (or possibly earlier if a deal is sorted). The result has been Brexit incomplete. For Labour this all finally started to expose the ambiguity of their position, blunting their ability to ride the two horses of leave and remain as they did so successfully in the 2017 General Election – dangling the prospect of a second referendum whilst saying they wanted out.

    Now they have been especially punished in their northern heartlands by leavers. For Conservatives it was a general sense of exasperation amongst much of the electorate that getting out of the EU has not yet been delivered. The results for the main parties was ‘a plague on both your houses’ and a sharp wakeup call. The way forward can only now be to get the deal done. I will continue to work hard for that and I do think we will get there. In the meantime that, I know, will be precious little comfort to the hard working local, dedicated and committed
    Conservative councillors who deserved far better last week.

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