The three Tory factions causing chaos and instability for Cornwall 22 January, 2013Posted by Jeremy Rowe in News, Politics.
Tags: Conservatives, Cornwall Council, Finances, Independents, Local Services
On one level, at least you could say that there’s rarely a dull moment as far as Cornwall Council’s warring Tory group is concerned. On another level, you would be perfectly entitled to wonder who on earth is supposed to be running the show while vital decisions need to be taken regarding the future of public services in Cornwall.
Fiona Ferguson, the Leader of the Conservative Group, has resigned from the Council’s Tory-led Cabinet (I’m not making this up) apparently over the use of voice recognition software, although few doubt there are deeper internal Tory rifts at play here. Cllr Ferguson, you may remember, was a long-running thorn in the side of the previous Tory Leader of the Council, Alec Robertson, before he was eventually overthrown by Jim Currie. After around three months as gamekeeper it would seem that Fiona has missed her role as poacher too much and has returned to her more familiar capacity of making life difficult for a Tory Leader of the Council.
This means that Cornwall’s Conservatives – who are supposed to be the Council’s leading group, remember – are effectively split into three. First, there is the Jim Currie faction – as Tory Leader of the Council he commands a certain level of Conservative support both inside and outside the Cabinet. Next there is the Fiona Ferguson faction – strong among Tory backbenchers but also with a level of support within the Cabinet. Finally there is the Alec Robertson faction – those who remain loyal to the former Council Leader and who (it is strongly rumoured) are making plans for his triumphant return to power after the elections.
If I were a distant observer of all of this intrigue I would probably find the endless in-fighting within Cornwall’s Conservatives highly entertaining. However, the Council Leader himself has admitted that the Tory/Indie coalition will leave the authority with a £21m black hole in its finances and a desperate plan for an improbable 5% hike in Council Tax next year.
Now the Council is without a full time Cabinet Member in charge of producing a budget.
What must be clear to anyone observing the endless Conservative navel-gazing at County Hall is that it’s time for Cornwall’s Tories to stop indulging themselves through pointless personality clashes and actually get on with the job.