A SUNNY bank holiday was the perfect way to recharge the batteries – I sat on the beach wondering what would’ve happened in Belsize if Jonny Bucknell had not been deselected, what did you do? – and there are some post election posts to come over the next few days.
But things move fast and there’s no time to sit on the Hove pebbles for long in this game, with the group AGMs coming up. Labour later, but first the Tories meet on Monday night to work out how they will reshuffle the pack after bleeding five seats in the chamber. They need a new finance spokesman at the very least after the fall of Don Williams. For his part, he said the local party was in need of rebuilding after learning of his defeat in the early hours of Friday.
More significantly, the lay of the land is now favourable for the restless leader-in-waiting Oliver Cooper to take over. He has apparently told party colleagues that he will put his name forward for the leadership. In a group reduced to seven councillors, he only needs to convince three others to back him and he’s over the line. It’s not hard to think who they could be.
The arithmetic puts Gio Spinella, whose affable and fairly open nature means he has friends around the chamber, in a difficult position. He took the reins when Claire-Louise Leyland, a very different sort of leader to the kind Cllr Cooper is likely to be, announced she was departing the scene earlier this year.
The Conservatives pride themselves in not fighting these kind of tug-of-wars in public, so it’s possible Cllr Spinella, a soft Tory and Remainer, may not even enter into a contest. Some of his most likely allies didn’t get elected.
If Cllr Cooper is confirmed as the new leader, expect a gunslinger with a more aggressive approach to what the Tories have had over the last four years. The divisions between one side of the chamber and the other may become clearer.
He may no doubt disagree with the story, but his arrival as leader of the opposition will also play into the long-told Labour narrative that the ‘Brexit boys’ are taking over the local Conservatives. Brexit, because Cllr Cooper and Henry Newman voted to Leave, and Boys, because the Conservaives now only have one woman on their benches.