Horsham Tories say Croft and Rae axed by ‘wide margin’ in poll of members

Jim Rae and Helena Croft pictured last year
Jim Rae and Helena Croft pictured last year
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Two controversial Tory councillors were axed as future party candidates by a ‘wide margin’ in a ballot of party members on Saturday, the Horsham Conservative Association revealed today (Monday).

In a detailed statement, the association claimed that deputy leader at Horsham District Council Helena Croft and councillor Jim Rae had made various complaints to the national party board and none of them had been upheld.

As a result of the board’s decision to reject the complaints, the local association met to select candidates for May’s district council elections - and both Mrs Croft and Mr Rae were not adopted.

The statement said that neither of them attended the adoption meeting, although it is understood Mrs Croft provided a statement which was read to members.

Mr Rae has since resigned from the Conservative Party to become an independent. He remains a county councillor.

The Conservative Association’s statement made specific reference to neither Mr Rae nor Mrs Croft having signed the County Times’ Free Speech Charter ‘which asks for openness and democracy in local government affairs’.

It further claimed that Mr Rae has been a member of the Labour Party and then the Liberal Democrats.

“After the Liberal Democrats Mr Rae stood as an Independent in 2003 in Holbrook East.

“Following standing as an Independent Mr Rae joined the Conservative Party where he was a member for just four years.

“On his track record of memberships of political parties it is suggestive that the problem lies with Mr Rae and not the political parties of which he has been a member,” the statement said.

The full statement reads: “Mr Rae and Mrs Croft made various complaints to the National Party Board of the Conservative Party about process and procedure regarding local government candidate selection.

“These were fully investigated and none of their complaints were upheld.

“Following the Board’s decision and rejection of the complaints, the Horsham Conservative Association’s Executive Council met to select candidates on February 14. Following a ballot of the members present, Mr Rae and Mrs Croft were not adopted as local government candidates by a wide margin.

“Mr Rae and Mrs Croft did not attend the meeting. Having sent in their apologies, they were invited to submit a written statement to be read out on their behalf. Mr Rae did not submit a written statement. Mr Rae and Mrs Croft were informed immediately of the outcome of the ballots.

“Under Conservative Party Rules no one has a right to continue indefinitely as a local government candidate, and all public representatives supported by the Conservative Party are open to challenge.

“Indeed when the selections for Horsham District Council came up four years ago, Mr Rae himself toppled an excellent and hard working councillor for Holbrook East at the selection meeting.

“The Conservative Party runs a free, open and democratic selection process for candidates at all levels, and two outstanding candidates have been selected to contest the Holbrook East ward at the upcoming local council elections.

“Mr Rae has been a member of the Labour Party and then the Liberal Democrats. After the Liberal Democrats Mr Rae stood as an Independent in 2003 in Holbrook East.

“Following standing as an Independent Mr Rae joined the Conservative Party where he was a member for just four years.

“On his track record of memberships of political parties it is suggestive that the problem lies with Mr Rae and not the political parties of which he has been a member.

“Mr Rae continues as a county councillor where he could have remained part of the Conservative Team at County Hall but he chose not to.

“To date Mr Rae and Mrs Croft have not signed the Free Speech Charter, which asks for openness and democracy in local government affairs.”

Related stories:

Horsham Tory quits party after he is dumped as a candidate

BREAKING NEWS: Deputy council leader Helena Croft axed by Horsham party members

Horsham cabinet member to sign County Times’ Free Speech Charter