Who will champion the IW centre left?
Tuesday, June 17, 2014 - 11:11
When I first moved to the IW nearly 30 years ago, elections were pretty colourful affairs.
Ok, the colours were mainly orange and blue in what was a two-horse race between the Liberal Democrats (or whatever incarnation they were going through at the time) and the Tories.
I say colourful, because that was exactly what they were. Orange posters and windmills, constructed by a clever system of levers and pulleys, would populate the Island’s highways and byways proclaiming the virtue of voting Ross, or later, Brand.
Against this orange tide was the Tory blue, often seen on farm field posts, beseeching the populace to put their X next to the name of Barry Field, or several other wannabe Thatcherites. But how times have changed. The Lib Dems are not only in disarray nationally, with no one wishing they could be like David Watts, as their man polled a fraction over 1,000 votes to finish in sixth spot in last week’s Newark by election, but also locally, where the Lib Dems polled fewer than 2,000 of the 35,600 votes cast and the Greens nudged them into fifth place
In last week’s letters pages, Stewart Blackmore, Labour’s latest triumph of hope over experience on the ballot paper for next year, got stuck into UKIP, the new kids on the block, in next year’s Andrew Turner against the rest vote in the General Election.
He quite rightly stated the choice will be between two right-wing candidates and opined that he was the best bet for those seeking a more left-leaning choice.
So what has happened to the Liberal Democrats on the Island?
Reg Barry ploughs a lone furrow on the IW Council and Shirley Smart, once a bastion of the Island party, sits as an independent, while Jill Wareham and Morris Barton have retired form the frontline of politics.
But is this to do with the expediency of bashings the Lib Dems and Island First groups took at local level, is it a consequence for the national coalition with the Tories or simply a matter of no new blood coming into the Island Lib Dem machine?
Theirs was a success story founded on an unusual grouping of individuals working at true grassroots level to deliver councillors and an MP on an Island known for its Conservative heritage.
That success was to be applauded for its real 'people’s party’ ethic but who will be the champions of the centre left and challenge Andrew Turner and UKIP man Ian McKie in the battle for Westminster next year?
Keith Newbery is away.
Luke-warm greeting for cap
CP cartoonist Besley has had a little dart at them and our readers certainly poured scorn on the idea.
But if you look at them from a non-cynical, tourist’s perspective, the meeters and greeters on Wightlink’s ferries do tick a few boxes.
A smiling face never did any harm and, as people are quick to point out, first impressions mean a lot.
So, when I was greeted by three cheery members of staff on boarding a boat at Fishbourne last week, it did make me think it was not such a bad idea.
On the return trip, however, I saw something I would not wish to see again in a hurry. The IW Council member for Newport West was aboard, in a rather beautiful Bentley convertible, committing a fashion faux par of midlife crisis performance.
As we disembarked, he got into the beast of a car, put the top down and, rather than plonking on his bonce a rakish Panama or a stylish beret, he placed on his noggin that centrepiece of yoof chic, the Nike baseball cap.
Really Cllr Whitehouse, it simply will not do!