Conservative Councillor resigns and backs Tom Brake

In news that has rocked the local Conservative campaign, Cllr Graham Whitham, Sutton’s longest serving Conservative Councillor, has left the party and is backing Tom Brake to win the race to be our next MP.

Graham Whitham said: “The two horse race between the Lib Dems and Conservatives in Carshalton & Wallington means the only way to stop cuts beyond what is needed is to keep Tom Brake as the local MP.

“Left unchecked the Conservatives will lurch to the right, unleashing extreme cuts on the most vulnerable in our society.”

The former leader of Sutton Conservatives added: “By voting for Tom Brake, local residents will ensure that the next Government adopts a balanced approach neither swerving to the right nor to the left.

“I served with Tom on Sutton Council and I believe he is the best choice for Carshalton & Wallington.”

What Graham says confirms what local people already know. The Conservatives will go too far with cuts to public services, putting our schools, hospitals and police at risk.

 Cllr Whitham's speech to the Council announcing his resignation from the Conservatives:

After March’s Council meeting, my Group Leader made it quite clear to me, in language both intemperate and threatening, that he wished me out of the Conservative Group, seeing my contribution to the Council Tax debate as culminating a series of unspecified ‘indulgences’.

In a subsequent private, party discussion, I was advised that should I formally question the propriety of his public confrontation there would be no sympathy for my position. Subsequently, these events, a catalytic moment, focused me as to where, exactly, I was positioned.

Locally our approach seems to be attack, not achieve, often expressed by opportunistic, gesture politics, secure in the knowledge that, remaining permanently in opposition, we will be unaccountable.

The Conservative Party, when I first joined in 1962, saw Governments role as maintaining a welfare safety net for those unable to easily secure their own well-being, possibly by having fallen on hard times. Politics then were underpinned by a united belief seeing a place for society and a state role in shaping society.

Benjamin Disraeli warned about creating two nations yet, as the current political map splinters, Conservatives have become increasingly tribal, battling with UKIP over what remains of their 2010 vote.

An enduring image from the last Conservative Conference is of a Secretary of State punching the air in delight when it was indicated that the next Conservative Government would continue burdening those at the bottom of the social pyramid. Those in low paid and often part time work, with little legislative job protection.

Teresa May spoke of the ‘nasty party’, speaking with candour about their default mind-set, epitomised by the unwarranted and unnecessarily brutal personal attack, by Michael Fallon on Ed Milliband. This attack came, however, as second nature, based upon the Party’s natural instincts.

Conservatives at their core only address the demands of about one-third of the electorate, currently embracing a wider agenda to address short-term electoral expediency. Former Chancellor, Ken Clarke, was so correct in the fears he expressed last week about a right wing lurch.

The Party’s Good Life manifesto which, from elsewhere, would be dismissed as un-costed fantasy is fiscally undeliverable and irresponsible ignoring the budgetary demand for further but un-identified, cuts and recalling broken VAT promises in 2010, tax increases.

Winston Churchill said that an election manifesto should be a lighthouse not a shop window. We are now reduced to the electorate being offered a daily bribe.

However, in a hung parliament the Prime Minister, not commanding a majority, would never be accountable to honour his promises. He would be a self-announced ‘lame duck’, with diminished authority and a waning ability to control events.

We need a restored balance between the national interest and its impact on individual lives. Politicians need to reject self serving political expediency and instead, couple a belief in society with compassion for those less able to protect themselves.

In the current Conservative Party you are weak unless you are continually strident or aggressive. Compassion is acceptable only if the price tag is right. For a party fixated by ‘cost’, they ignore the potential longer-term price of the 2011 riots.

If we are not ‘One Nation’ we will eventually become a nation divided. History shows a house dived against itself, cannot stand. Belief has gone that we are all in this together but rather, certain sections are in it for themselves, no matter what the cost to others.

Hillary Clinton recently stated, ‘We are in danger of having our politics taken over by intense minorities that have truly retrograde opinions. Determined groups that will never stop doing everything they can to impose their beliefs and values on everybody else.’

Locally the Conservative Council Group has become such a determined group. It is referred to as 8 plus 1, with me; adjudged as the 1. The Party I originally joined would have seen it as a broad church of 9.

Tonight their 8 plus 1, is now 9 minus 1. I am resigning my Party membership and that of the Conservative Council Group effective immediately and will sit as an Independent Cheam Ward Councillor.


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