With all these Tory tensions, who needs an opposition?

Tory councillors in Suffolk have been falling out spectacularly over the last week!

Tory councillors in Suffolk have been falling out spectacularly over the last week! - Credit: Archant

Last week’s shock resignation by Suffolk County Council cabinet member for education Lisa Chambers shone a bright spotlight on the tensions that remain within the Tory group at Endeavour House.

Any suggestion that the blood-letting we have seen simmering within the group recently had stopped was well and truly scotched by Mrs Chambers’ bombshell.

Her letter, which she sent to all Conservative councillors, said: “Over the recent months I have felt that it has become impossible for me to continue as a member of Cabinet and within the Conservative Group.

“There are many things happening at a local and national level that I do not agree with, the final straw came for me when the Leader decided to remove my local Newmarket work from me – a local councillor without their local role was a step too far for me, this role was removed without consultation or explanation.”

Mrs Chambers told me she was disappointed that one (or more) of her party colleagues had passed the letter on to the media.

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I’m afraid it showed a certain naivety on her part if she seriously thought she could send a letter like that out to 37 fellow councillors and none of them would pass it on to the media.

What did surprise me was the strength of the reaction of former leader Mark Bee – and the fact that he was prepared to go on the record by tweeting: “I’m sorry to see Lisa resign. It illustrates yet again that Colin Noble is not fit to lead SCC or hold the Cons(ervative) Group together.”

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I know there is no love lost between Messrs Bee and Noble. Mr Bee and his supporters feel that Mr Noble and his supporters spent the best part of two years trying to win the leadership of the group following the election of 2013.

Certainly in the run-up to the May 2014 leadership election – when Mr Bee narrowly saw off a challenge from Mr Noble – Team Noble supporters were telling me that the then leadership was out of touch with Conservative backbenchers, and was keener on working with the business community than it was with involving its own councillors.

Now with Mr Noble in charge, I’m hearing exactly the same accusations being made – in reverse – by friends of the former leader.

They say that Mr Noble is only interested in the views of his keen supporters – and suggest that he spends too much time away from the office attending conferences.

They also say he is more interested in promoting Conservative Party policy than in talking to business about issues affecting the county.

Of course there is probably truth on both sides – but all these tensions are hardly qualified to create a harmonious group of Conservative councillors at Endeavour House!

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