Friday, October 16, 2009

Cameron - hope you have the kaolin and morphine in!

This evening there is a story in Bedford's local paper telling the sorry tale that the Tories predict defeat in the Mayoral tomorrow. Earlier this evening, a source "close to the party" called to tell me the same - even before the polls closed the Tories were off to console themselves with Pizza.

Last week at Tory Party conference, any local activist I bumped into was far from buoyant about the prospect of a Tory mayor - despite the huge effort central office has clearly put in to support his campaign. I understand (though this will have to be confirmed) that there were 7 central office staff on permanent Bedford duty.

Sadly, this election is unlikely to command much national attention or analysis, but it must be remembered - Bedford Borough is more than a constituency, in fact it straddles three. It is clearly important to the Tories to win, otherwise why would we have seen such huge investment - and the rolling out of leading lights, including this week, Cameron himself?

What this has done, is expose the true underbelly of the party. Having a primary that sidelined local activists did nothing to engage them in the fight, but more importantly, it exposed the very real thread of racism that still blights the Cameron and Pickles unrealistic vision of a more "liberal" party.

Tomorrow I fully expect us to trumpet the election of Dave Hodgson as Bedford Mayor - Cameron should be afraid - very afraid. This is not just a little local difficulty, it is very real evidence of the reality of the hill Cameron has to climb. When the chips are down he has to deal with a party that has never understood the concept of collective responsibility and who, when push comes to shove are likely to show their true blue colours. Bedford is likely to be an emblem - one to spur us on to believe we can and must be the real alternative to Labour - and one to remind the Cameroonies that it is not just their Labour opponents they have to fight.

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