Candidate is 'nobody's Stooge' - Tories hit out at council leader
PUBLISHED: 09:55 13 November 2019 | UPDATED: 09:55 13 November 2019
Picture: Archant/PA/Conservative party
The Conservative group on East Devon District Council has defended the party's choice of candidate for the General Election on December 12.
The council's independent leader, Ben Ingham, told this title the Tories 'would have been better off with Iggy Pop', saying 'people would be able to relate to him more than a DJ from Plymouth'.
The Conservative party's candidate hoping to succeed Sir Hugo Swire in the East Devon seat is Simon Jupp, a former broadcaster who went on to work as special adviser to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.
Responding to Cllr Ingham's comments, Andrew Moulding, Conservative group leader on the district council (EDDC), said the selection shows that the party is a broad church 'drawing candidates from all backgrounds and ethnicities'.
He said in a statement: "A bit shallow to judge someone he hasn't met, who actually is charismatic and where, if elected as MP for East Devon, he will need to have a solid working relationship with."
He said 'to compare him with Iggy Pop shows how out of touch with reality disaffected Conservative Ben Ingham actually is, stuck in some 1970s time warp', adding that Mr Jupp will be 'nobody's 'Stooge' and has a clear 'Lust for Life' (apologies to Iggy)'.
He said by dismissing the major parties, and endorsing independent candidate Claire Wright, Cllr Ingham 'lets both himself down, as well as the office of leader of the other 59 elected members on the council, who he is supposed to be leading'.
He said: "EDDC is staring right down the barrel of being unable to balance the books in 2020/21, other than by a knee-jerk reaction of hiking car parking charges, choosing instead to be distracted from this important task by whimsy."
In response to Cllr Ingham's claim the Government had failure to get a good Brexit deal, he said Cllr Ingham 'doesn't explain what he thinks a good Brexit deal is'.
Cllr Ingham said he considered running in the General Election, before deciding to instead focus on his role as council leader.
Cllr Moulding said this shows his heart 'clearly isn't in being leader of EDDC'.
He said nominations are still open for the General Election and that Cllr Ingham can still 'test the feeling of support for him as an Independent candidate and on his track record so far as EDDC leader, perhaps together with his letter of resignation'.