All-out war among Tories

CIVIL war has broken out among Ipswich Conservatives following the suspension of council group leader Stephen Barker.Many people, myself included, feel that Mr Barker was harshly treated by the Adjudication Panel which suspended him from the borough council for a year at last week's hearing into allegations that he treated a council official with disrespect and brought the office of councillor into disrepute.

CIVIL war has broken out among Ipswich Conservatives following the suspension of council group leader Stephen Barker.

Many people, myself included, feel that Mr Barker was harshly treated by the Adjudication Panel which suspended him from the borough council for a year at last week's hearing into allegations that he treated a council official with disrespect and brought the office of councillor into disrepute.

But once the suspension was announced, it provoked the most vicious blood-letting I've ever seen among the town's Tories.

And that's saying something given their ability to fall out.


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On Friday the Ipswich Conservative Association held an emergency meeting to discuss the situation, but reached no actual decisions.

On Monday the Conservative group met at Civic Centre, and again managed to put off making a decision on its leadership - meaning that at present Mr Barker is still the leader.

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After all, he's still a councillor even if he is suspended and therefore not allowed to speak or vote at meetings - he's only allowed into Civic Centre as a member of the public.

And he's not even allowed to ask questions as a member of the public at full council meetings - that option is only available to people who live in Ipswich and Mr Barker lives outside the borough.

He could still appeal against the suspension - but that would not go down well with some of his party members.

Since the suspension, I've spoken to Tories in Ipswich who see this as the ideal opportunity to get rid of a group leader they see as more of a liability than an asset.

They have become fed up with many Tory councillors and want them to either get their act together or stand down from their positions.

I've had calls from Tories about councillors they don't want to benefit from the upheaval caused by the suspension.

These members want to see the Tory group acting more like a political opposition and less like a group of polecats united only by an extreme - and in some cases personal - hatred of their political opponants and senior council officials.

This hatred goes far beyond normal political differences - I've seen politicians on other authorities go for each other in meetings and then get on fine in the bar afterwards.

But in Ipswich this is real hatred - and it's difficult to imagine how many of the leading Tory councillors could work with senior officials if they were in power at Civic Centre.

There are some Tories already on the council who do want to restore normal opposition politics to the corridors of Civic Centre, and it is the aim of many members of the Ipswich Conservative Association to ensure these people rise to the top of the tree.

If that happens, we could be in for a spell of real politics in the council chamber.

That would certainly be a good thing - the atmosphere in council meetings at present is toxic and that does no good for the town's residents or the people of Suffolk who use their county town.

I KNOW Labour currently has a reputation for being the party that's the king of the spinners at the moment - but there comes a time when you can try too hard.

This press statement came from the regional office in the wake of last week's Yoxford by-election when Labour was pushed into fourth place by the BNP:

Labour helps defeat extremism in Yoxford by-election

Labour's Yoxford by-election candidate, Tim Williams, applauded his party's performance in the controversial district council ballot on Thursday 5th February.

The Yoxford DC seat is a traditional Conservative-stronghold, but Labour was able to win a handful of votes from defiant voters keen to banish political extremism from the Yoxford community.

Let's look at the facts.

The BNP finished third with 153 votes while Labour finished fourth with just 80.

I don't like this result any more than anyone else, but all it proves is that there twice as many racists as socialists in the Yoxford area.

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