After their disastrous showing in the Brighton & Hove City Council’s elections, Conservatives’ leader Tony Janio announced he was stepping down, but who is to follow?
Cllr Janio’s claim is not correct that Brexit and national issues played a part in the B&H Tories’ decline.
The rot had set in long below the EU referendum in 2016.
The local Tories swept to power in 2007 winning the Council elections and then won both Kemptown and Hove in the 2010 General Election.
Yet no sooner than the Conservatives had established themselves, than they spectacularly lost the 2011 Council elections to the Greens, and Hove fell to Labour in the 2015 General Election- all before Brexit.
Admittedly Labour found superb candidates in both Peter Kyle and Lloyd Russell-Moyle to be their MPs, but the Conservatives had some first class councillors as well.
So why is their image so poor?
The Tories have been chasing after the Labour vote to the exclusion of all else.
Voters must have a choice and if all three parties are offering the same brand of socialism there is no-one for the middle class to vote for.
The local Tories, in under ten years have gone from the champions of middle England to challenging Labour as the true representatives of the working class.
And they have completely forgotten their traditional voters in the process.
So who did the middle class vote for? Given there was such a good turnout their votes must have gone to the Greens.
The Green candidates were all extremely well turned out and their spokesmen articulate.
Even if some of their policies are dotty, everybody loves trees and saving the planet.
But the real breakthrough came in Rottingdean with the election of Bridget Fishleigh as an independent.
There have been independent councillors before, but only those who were originally elected on a party ticket before deciding to sit as an independent.
To actually get elected as an independent in the first place is big news and a fabulous achievement – let’s hope there are more to follow.
Originally local politicians were all independent of political parties, yet over time they formed into two broad groups.
On one side there were those in favour of more regulation with higher taxes to pay for them.
And opposing them were the Conservatives who championed lower taxes, less bureaucracy, and more personal freedoms
The new B & H Conservative leader needs to create a party that is open to everybody, regardless of background who shares the common goal of holding government to account and reshaping its role to become leaner and fitter.
If the government controls the people, we have an elected dictatorship, whereas if the people control the government we have democracy.
The new Brighton & Hove Tory leader needs to remember that a three party system doesn’t do well in Britain.
The local party faces annihilation unless it delivers real choice for the voters and claiming to be more socialist than the socialists isn’t the way forward.