Abandoning ship?

Since posting the item below, my inbox has been bombarded with the names of IPPG defectors and other potential Tory candidates.

Most of them are so improbable that I can only assume Putin is putting out fake news in order to confuse the Pembrokeshire electorate.

It worked in America, so why not here?

With the local elections now less than three months away, speculation is rife over who is going to stand and who is going to hang up their political boots.

There has been much tearoom chatter surrounding the rumour (nothing more?) that three present members of the ruling IPPG are about to defect to the Tories.

As you can imagine, every amateur conspiracy theorist in the county is on the case and a number of weird and wonderful hypotheses about the identity of these three ship-jumpers are doing the rounds.

One contender is Cllr John Davies who regular readers may remember made a bid to become the Tory candidate for police commissioner back in 2012 only to have his ambitions thwarted by accusations of carpetbagging after it was revealed that his Tory party membership application had been submitted on the same day as the selection meeting.

The thinking is that he is signing up in good time to avoid such accusations if he decides to stand in 2020.

I give this idea about one out of ten and then only because I am in a particularly generous frame of mind.

Another whose name has been bandied about is Cllr Elwyn Morse of Templeton.

This has more credibility if only because Cllr Morse is already a member of the Tory party.

However, as he has managed to maintain his dual IPPG/Tory membership ever since he was elected in 2004 it is not thought likely that he will bale out.

In addition, there doesn’t seem to be much of a Tory threat in the Templeton area because in 2012 Cllr Morse beat the Conservative party candidate Rayner Peett by 472 votes to 87.

Most political parties have a rule that standing against an officially endorsed candidate leads to automatic expulsion.

It seems the Tories take a lenient view of this sort of back-stabbing.

A veteran member, who knows a bit about these things, tells me a more nuanced approach is required.

His advice is to look for members who might be threatened by a Tory challenge.

For instance, in 2012 Tom Richards in Letterston only beat his Tory rival Tasha Sexton by 42 votes – so he might take the view that if your unlikely to beat them, join them.

Another who could be vulnerable to a swing to the Tories is Steve Yelland in Rudbaxton.

In 2012 Yelland unseated Tory Richard Hancock, so, if he could head the Tories off at the pass by becoming one of them, his chances would be much improved.

Identifying a third potential defector proved rather more challenging, but, as I scanned the 2012 election results for a likely candidate, the word “bye-election” came into my mind and after Googling the Burton result all became clear.

Burton’s former councillor, David Wildman, was elected as a Tory before jumping ship to the then, IPG in 1999.

Could Rob Summons – the only member ever to be elected on an openly IPPG ticket – be about to make the return journey?

After all, his nearest rival at the bye-election caused by Wildman’s resignation was one Robin Wilson (Conservative).

As T H Huxley said: “The great tragedy of science: the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact” so we will have to wait to see if this one survives the test of time.

We won’t have long to wait because nominations for May’s election close on 4th April so there will keen interest to see who is sitting where when this council assembles for its final meeting on the sixth.