“I will expose some things” says former deputy leader of Horsham District Council

JPCT 30-07-13 S13311408x  Roger Arthur -photo by Steve Cobb
JPCT 30-07-13 S13311408x Roger Arthur -photo by Steve Cobb

The former Conservative deputy leader of Horsham District Council this week threatened to ‘expose some things’ in the run-up to the 2015 general and local elections.

Mr Arthur, (UKIP, Chanctonbury) who defected to UKIP in March made the revelation while confirming his intention to challenge Francis Maude MP for his Horsham seat.

JPCT-10-02-12 Francis Maude S12070178a -photo by Steve Cobb

JPCT-10-02-12 Francis Maude S12070178a -photo by Steve Cobb

The chartered engineer from Storrington has been confirmed as his new party’s prospective parliamentary candidate.

The 70 year old revealed he punched the air with joy when he was informed of his selection and is delighted to have the backing of the local branch, meaning he will contest the Horsham seat against the Government’s Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude.

“I intend to win,” said Mr Arthur. “The prospects are good, because [Francis Maude] is right at the centre of this particular Cameron regime, and I believe he must have suffered quite a lot of damage because he has not confronted that.

“I think he has to pay the price at the next election. A lot of people out there see him for what he has done, or hasn’t done,” added the chartered engineer, who cited as an example how the Government ‘has failed to deliver the concept of localism’.

It was while on holiday in Costa Rica six months ago that Mr Arthur decided to take a stand and, after lifelong membership of the Conservative Party, defect to UKIP.

He blames Tony Blair for changing the nature of British politics, with ‘spin and distortion’ and ‘style taking precedence over substance, unlike the Thatcher era when it was all about conviction’.

“I see a fundamental sea-change and of course Camerron wanted to be heir to Blair and he has copied Blair very well.”

Mr Arthur believes the Prime Minister’s modernisation agenda was about ‘excluding what he regarded as the right-wingers’ - those who became ‘the swivel-eyed loons’.

“These are people who had similar values to Margaret Thatcher and he has ended up with people who are amateurs, career politicians, and a lot of them have not done much in the real world,” said Mr Arthur.

However, could this be said of the prominent Tory grandee whom he hopes to de-seat in 2015? Mr Maude served in Margaret Thatcher’s Government and Mr Arthur conceded he has had a business career outside of politics too. But what about convictions?

“I think he may have convictions,” said Mr Arthur, “but I haven’t seen much of them in recent times.

“I don’t underestimate the challenge, but he is no different from any other challenge I have taken on. I shall prepare myself thoroughly and he will have to be on his mettle.”

Mr Maude, who took more than 52 per cent of the vote in 2011 and has a majority in excess of 11000, has confirmed he will be contesting the Horsham seat in 2015. He said: “I take every election extremely seriously and will do my utmost to retain Horsham for the Conservatives.

“This Government is reforming welfare and driving up standards in schools.

“We have cut migration by a third, reduced crime and committed to holding a referendum on our membership of the European Union.”

When Roger Arthur first defected to UKIP four months ago, the attitude of some former Conservative colleagues was markedly changed.

The married father of two said: “Initially there were some Tory members who wouldn’t look at me. I would say ‘hello’ in the usual way and they would ignore me.

“I don’t know how much of it was animosity and how much puzzlement – people perhaps didn’t understand why you would give up that kind of position,” added the member for Chanctonbury who had been serving as Horsham District Council leader Ray Dawe’s deputy.

“Some people might suggest I should have stayed because I still had some influence but actually the amount of influence I had was quite limited.”

Asked to elaborate Mr Arthur said he wanted to ‘keep things back for the election’ before adding ‘I will expose some things’.

When pushed he explained he had been dissuaded from revealing information regards Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre that he felt was important for members to be aware of before making decisions.

He said he feels ‘liberated’ since leaving the Conservative party and saddened by the fact he understood that some councillors representing wards in north Horsham had been threatened with expulsion from the local Tory group if they had decided to vote against the Local Development Framework last Thursday. (see p16&17)

Mr Arthur bemoaned a recent decision by HDC to hold Strategic Planning Advisory Group meetings in private and, relating local Tory politics in Horsham to Cameron’s over-controlling regime, he said: “I intensely dislike the fact that people should be gagged in this democracy.”

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