Rumours tonight that Geoffrey Theobald has succeeded Mary Mears as the Leader of the Conservatives on Brighton and Hove City Council. For several months I have speculated about the divisions within the Tory ranks. With the loss of several Mears supporters last Thursday, the balance of power has swung to the Old Guard within the Tories.
The divisions run deep – witness the decision of Jo Heard to run (unsuccessfully) in Hangleton and Knoll. Ayas Fallon-Khan was deselected in Goldsmid and replaced by the Estate Agent and other young Tories.
The young Tories are modernisers. This is what Adam Love told me: “You’re right that young Conservatives in Brighton & Hove do have a shared bond, but you clearly don’t understand what it is or why it’s distinctive. All the young Conservative candidates, me included, are committed modernisers. We appreciate that the Conservatives need to articulate a clear positive vision for our city’s future that speaks to all of its residents (especially 30-40 somethings with kids, at least in Goldsmid), not just the traditional Conservative-base.
“We know that far too many of the electorate believe we’re all the old Tories and don’t understand their aspirations or deliver their vision for modern city which places quality of life and the local environment at its heart. Our challenge is to shape our party and our policies so all sections of the city believe we share their interests and will stand-up for them.”
How Geoffrey Theobald views this is another matter. If the rumours are correct, I will be sorry to see Mary returning to the back benches. Mary remains one of the most formidable political operators in Brighton and Hove. It appears that the split between the Tories in Brighton Kemptown has lost out to the Federation of Conservaives in Brighton Pavilion and Hove.
Funny, that, because Hove and Portslade must now be the next target for the Green tide that is spreading out across the City.