With local council elections due in May 2017 – and a General Election now likely later this year – party organisers are said to be struggling to assemble shortlists of credible and able candidates.
PDN has been told there is a particular problem in the Vale of Glamorgan and Penarth. In the Vale of Glamorgan, the Conservative Party has confirmed that Ross England – who was selected as its candidate in last month’s Assembly elections (but lost to incumbent Labour AM Jane Hutt) – has been suspended whilst a disciplinary inquiry is carried out .
England’s day-job was as an aide to the Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns who is MP for the Vale of Glamorgan in Westminster.
England was also an organiser for the European Referendum Vote Leave campaign – taking the opposite view to his boss who supported “Remain”.
WalesonLine reported that a front page of The Sun newspaper – (supporting the Leave campaign) had been displayed in front window of Cairns’s constituency window . England claimed it had been left there by an “over-enthusiastic activist”. England was also alleged to have used foul language in a now-removed “tweet” to Remain campaigners.
The incident follows a row earlier this year over England’s involvement in the placing of a a fake “parking ticket” placed on the car of Cllr Lis Burnett (Labour St Augustines) when it was parked near the Barry Conservative offices – an incident out of which neither party emerged with much credit.(See PDN http://tinyurl.com/hp75kvc and http://tinyurl.com/zbuzpa3 )
PDN has been told there is now a wider problem faced by local Conservative Party officials in finding and selecting good candidates to stand for election at all levels .
As previously reported by PDN councillors elected next May’s Vale of Glamorgan and Penarth Town Council elections will hold office for a period of 5 years.
Some insiders are now highly critical of the practice (indulged in by all the main parties including Labour ) of selecting “paper candidates” – candidates who agree to stand for election for council seats but who actually have no serious intention of getting involved in council work after being elected. Councillors can currently fail to attend council meetings for as long as 6 months without losing their seats.
So far the Conservative Party is understood not to have provisionally-selected any candidates for any of the seats in next May’s council elections beyond those already held by party incumbents .
Earlier this year a Conservative Party £12-a-head fish-and-chip supper, trawling for new candidates, is said to have identified several potential new council candidates for Cardiff council seats – but none for the Vale of Glamorgan and Penarth councils.