The seething feud within the Bridgwater and West Somerset Conservative Party has burst into the open – with the publication of an astonishing attack on Tory MP Ian Liddell-Grainger. The Tory group on West Somerset council has passed a vote of no confidence, describing him as immoral, bullying, ill-informed and dishonourable.
The council group says Liddell-Grainger should stand down as Tory vcandidate for the constituency, listing a catalogue of reasons:
• The MP is accused of making gratuitously derogatory and offensive comments about West Somerset Council, its leaders and some of its councillors and officers
• He is said to have been “proactive in undermining what the council has been trying to achieve on behalf of its residents”
• Treatment of “certain individuals has been immoral, sometimes by bullying and making fun in public of those unable or unwilling to defend themselves”, sometimes to cover up for himself
• His “ill-informed, dishonourable, divisive and destructive behaviour… makes him unfit to be a member of parliament” and the West Somerset Council Conservative Group “does not trust him and lacks confidence in him”
Cavaliers and ‘Boneheads’ descend into civil war
Leading the attack on Liddell-Grainger is the Tory leader in West Somerset, Tim Taylor. He told the BBC: “I can confirm that the motion and supporting reasons were passed by a clear majority of Conservative group members.” But in a sign that local Tories are deeply divided, the ruling body in the constituency as a whole says it has “every confidence” in the MP.
Councillor Taylor has already said he will not be standing in this year’s district council elections. Seemingly, he has been worn down by years of struggling to keep the council viable while being undermined by a Member of Parliament from his own party.
The councillors’ move is the latest stage in a groundswell of opinion against Liddell-Grainger, who is seen generally in West Somerset as being arrogant, evasive and out of touch. The collapse in support for him – in an area that is traditionally Conservative – throws the general election here right open.
The Tory MP , who was described as a ‘Bonehead’ by political reporter Andrew Gimson in the Tory leaning Daily Telegraph not long ago, has so far made no response. Gimson wrote “The hapless Ian Liddell-Grainger epitomises a certain not-very-valuable boneheadedness still quite widespread on Tory benches.”
Labour says MP ‘Totally discreditted’
Labour’s candidate, Mick Lerry, has a strong record as a councillor and trade unionist in working hard for those he represents. He now has a clear chance of replacing an MP who is totally discredited.
West Somerset Labour Party secretary Andy Lewis said:“This is a quite extraordinary attack on Liddell-Grainger by leading members of his own party. It has been clear for some time that there has been tension between the MP and West Somerset Tory councillors. Today’s revelation has shown the depth of animosity that has built up.
“For the councillors to say in so many words that Liddell-Grainger is not fit to be an MP is surely a blow from which he cannot recover. The Labour Party offers the only credible alternative.”