Have Suffolk Tory MPs no manners?

IN all the fallout from the election of May 5, it's perplexing that none of Suffolk's five Conservative MPs has made any public statement exalting the success of their councillor colleagues in capturing control of the County Council after 12 years.

AMID the fallout from the election of May 5, it's perplexing that none of Suffolk's five Conservative MPs has made any public statement exalting the success of their councillor colleagues in capturing control of the County Council after 12 years.

John Gummer did invite new Leader Jeremy Pembroke to his home in Debenham, along with the nine county councillors elected in his Suffolk Coastal constituency, for a celebration. But that seems to be the limit of Tory largesse.

Could it be that the Tory MPs, after years of enjoying cheap headlines criticising the Labour-Liberal Democrat administration in County Hall, realise that that milch cow has disappeared and that they'll have to defend the new Tory administration, even if they don't agree with their policies?

THE abysmal failure of the Liberal Democrats in Suffolk - just seven county councillors, a reduction of more than half - certainly came as no surprise. They paid the price for week in, week out, propping up Labour, especially in 2003 when the majority of them put up their hands for the 18.5% council tax rise. Did Lib Dems candidates really expect they could credibly challenge Labour when they had endorsed all their policies?


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Perhaps the most bitter attack on the Lib Dems has come from Lesley Henniker-Major, one time leader of the county group, former County Council chairman, and the 1993 parliamentary candidate in Suffolk Central.

Mrs Henniker-Major believes the Lib Dems were seduced by Labour's urban orientated agenda, and alleges the party were mere ciphers of the Labour group. "They did not stand up for Suffolk. They became silent on the many issues causing concern and hardship in the rural communities.

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"They justified rather than spoke out against the huge rises in council tax. The electorate has reacted accordingly and our party's standing in the community has diminished accordingly.

"I fear it will be a long time before the electorate of Suffolk trusts us with local matters again." A stinging rebuke - but with no Liberal Democrat county councillors in four of Suffolk's seven districts, there's no doubt the opportunity has gone for the party to be a force in the county.

FOR a final word on the elections, let's turn to the UK Independence Party. Tory supporting author Freddie Forsyth, writing in the Daily Express, believes 23 mostly Brussels-sceptic "young Conservative candidates" failed to win seats thanks to the "thick-as-a-plank UKIP fools" who polled enough votes in marginal constituencies to allow Eurofriendly Labour and Eurofederalist Lib Dems to scrape home.

Over to Tom Wise, East of England Euro MP. "The Tory manifesto was closer to New Labour than UKIP." He accuses Mr Forsyth of arrogance. "The Tories do not have a God given right to be elected. If the Conservative Party does not agree with our policy to pull out of Europe, why should we give its candidates a free run?"

Incidentally, the Press Association and the official UK election results service have corrected the result from Corby. Last week, I expressed amazement that UKIP had polled 12,078 - it transpires the actual figure was 1,278.

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