Would I share the views of Philip Circus as to the state of the Conservative Party nationally, no I would not; well you would say that wouldn’t you with the county council elections coming up I hear some of you say... but please let me provide an alternative point of view.
My belief is that the twin root causes of the current political situation can be found before and as a direct result of the last General Election, those being:
a) The perilous state Labour left this nation’s finances in, and the extreme measures having to be adopted by Central Government in an attempt to recover from 13 years of reckless borrow and spend policies.
b) Despite winning around 100 seats, the failure to win those last few seats to gain an overall working majority; and from it the need to create a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats.
Government by coalition in my mind is never a good thing when decisive action is called for; especially a coalition of ‘national convenience’ between two political parties; who the day before the election had little if anything in common. Coalition in that form results in forced compromises; it breeds caution, and an extreme lack of decisiveness. Those forced compromises have caused the Conservative Party nationally to adopt policies it would not normally have considered – and has also stopped the Conservative Party from adopting policies in-line with what is popularly called ‘true Conservative values’.
I have previously written on a number of occasions on the subject of the ‘squeeze on local authority finances, due to the massive funding cuts by Central Government; in order to attempt to reduce the national deficit and the mountain of debt left by the outgoing Labour Government.
Those truly massive cuts in turn have forced all local authorities no matter of what political hue to make tough and sometimes unpopular fiscal decisions in order to balance the books and to protect frontline services. In the case of Horsham District and West Sussex County councils, without resorting to an increase in that most indiscriminate of taxes - council tax.
In the face of such adversity, one might have expected the ruling Conservative groups at both District and County level (as some may have you believe) to have had a fit of infighting as to policy making, to have waivered in their decisions about adopting tough and sometimes controversial fiscal measures – in fact the opposite is true.
True, both at District and County levels the Conservative groupings have had in-depth constructive debates on policy issues, both groups in my opinion have searched long and hard to identify ways and means to solve the financial conundrum set by this coalition Government, ways and means that cause the least harm to our residents.
In direct contrast to what some might have you believe, I have never seen two political groups more united in a common cause, that being to balance the books, with due thought and consideration for all. At both levels of local government those two Conservative groups should rightly be proud of their record of achievement in such difficult financial circumstances.
As to the County elections on May 2 all I will say is this:
In 2009 the electorate put its faith in the Conservative Party; the electorate trusted the Conservative Party to continue handling matters affecting us all with thought, care, and consideration but in the end with decisiveness.
Has anything at County level changed apart from fiscal matters not of a local making? The answer to that question of course is a resounding no.
So before casting a vote on May 2, please remember these are local not national elections and should be judged on local not national issues; also could you please ask yourselves the following questions:
Have the West Sussex County Conservatives kept their election pledges of 2009?
Has the Conservative Party at the local level shown caring, thoughtful decisiveness in the face of extreme fiscal adversity?
Has the Conservative Party at the local level continued to adopt and demonstrate ‘true Conservative values’?
Has the West Sussex Conservative Party exercised strong financial management, which is why there has been no increase in council tax for the last three years?
Lastly, should I continue to support the Conservative Party, the party that has a proven track record of caring leadership at a time of need?
I believe your answers should be a resounding yes, but that is for you to think upon and you to decide on May 2.
(Con) Horsham district councillor for Holbrook East and Conservative Party candidate to contest the West Sussex County Election 2013 for the Roffey division, North Street, Horsham