35 IW candidates sign letter accusing Conservatives of questionable election tactics. Campaign director David Pugh responds

35 candidates, including independents, LibDems and Green Party members, have called on David Pugh to answer questions about claims made in Conservative election literature

David Pugh with three people standing around him with their backs to the photographer

With just a week until the 2021 Isle of Wight council election, a letter signed by 35 candidates calls on Chairman of Island Conservatives, David Pugh, to publicly explain why he has claimed “Isle of Wight council elections are more like Westminster, with a choice between the main political parties”.

The letter, published below in full, argues that “many strong Independent candidates win here without the support of a political party”.

As reported by News OnTheWight yesterday (Wednesday), in their election literature the Island Conservatives are trying to frame the upcoming election as generally them vs Labour.

Answer in public
In the letter the candidates ask Mr Pugh to publicly answer the following questions:

  1. Why are you deliberately misleading the public by repeating the false claim that in every ward it is only Conservatives and Labour who can win, when in 38/39 wards this does not apply?
  2. Why are you falsely claiming that County Council elections with 39 wards with very different identities and numerous Independent candidates can be equated with an election to the Westminster Parliament?
  3. What are you actually afraid of, attempting to hide behind this phony binary focus on local politics?

Mr Pugh says the Island Conservatives “stand by the content of all our literature and statements” and that the claims made in the letter are “absurd”.

Many independent councils
The letter’s signatories, a mixture of candidates, explain that many councils across the country are successfully run by a coalition of councillors from different parties.

Indeed, in the 2013 election when the Conservatives lost control after only winning 15 seats, the Island Independents, who also won 15 seats, negotiated with other independent candidates to form the Island Independent Group of councillors within County Hall and took control of the council.

Pugh: We stand by the content of all our literature
In response to the letter, David Pugh said,

“It is a statement of fact that only the Conservatives and Labour have enough to candidates to form a majority to run the Isle of Wight Council. All other parties or groupings have less than 20 (out of 39) candidates so it is mathematically impossible for them – on their own – to form a majority administration.”

“We have not said – contrary to what their letter claims – that only these two parties can win individual seats. We have made a clear point about the Council as a whole. We stand by the content of all our literature and statements.”

Conservative Letter for Ryde Appley and Elmfield

He went on to add,

“Many of these parties have shown – by only standing candidates in certain seats – that some parts of the Island are more important to them than others. For instance, the ironically named “Our Island” has not shown any interest in our three largest towns.

“Most councils across England are run by a majority of one political party. This allows a local authority to have a clear, cohesive direction, rather than the chaos the Island saw between prior to 2017 when a group of disparate independents spent much of their time falling out with each other, before eventually resigning the leadership.”

Pugh: “Absurd claims”
It’s not just the Conservatives making these claims, in Osborne the Green candidate says in his election literature “Your choice, Cameron Palin or another Conservative”. There are two other candidates standing, an independent and a LibDem.

In his response, Mr Pugh also challenged claims made in the leaflets of other candidates, he told News OnTheWight,

“Furthermore, it is rather hypocritical of these candidates to make such absurd claims.

“One of them (the Green candidate for Osborne) has just put out a leaflet suggesting that the election is between him and the Conservative candidate, even though the Greens didn’t even stand in this area last time – so start from a base of 0 votes.

“The Lib Dems are clearly the main challengers to the Conservatives in Osborne, having come second in a 2019 by-election which covered this area.”

He finished by saying,

“We’re not going to take lessons from this assorted bunch of Greens, Liberal Democrats, Our Island and independents about messaging in election campaigns.”


The letter in full

Dear David Pugh,

We write to you in your capacity as Election Agent for the Isle of Wight Conservative Party with regard to the mailings which have dropped onto the doormats of tens of thousands of households across the Island in the lead up to the elections on 6th May.

It is not uncommon to see the odd bar chart used to illustrate who the main challengers are in each ward, but your mailing ignores the evidence of past County elections in 2017 and 2013 – where Independents in particular on the Isle of Wight were very well supported by the electorate.

The Conservative leaflet statement, repeated in a grey box in each letter entitled “Your Choice” in the ward, makes the claim that “Isle of Wight elections are more like Westminster with a choice between the political parties”. This is factually incorrect:

  • Many strong Independent candidates win here without the support of a political party
  • County elections across 39 wards can result in smaller parties being successful and winning many seats.

Your statement goes on to say that “only the Conservatives and Labour have enough candidates to form a majority to run the Isle of Wight Council”. This claim is also factually incorrect. 

  • Many councils across the country are successfully run by a coalition of councillors from different parties. 
  • Labour have barely won a handful of seats for County Hall in the past on the Isle of Wight, and certainly have little chance of securing a majority of over 20 seats from a standing start of zero councillors.

You claim that only the Conservative candidate would be “a hardworking councillor with influence” and everyone else elected would be “a fringe party candidate sitting on the sidelines at County Hall” This claim is likewise factually incorrect. 

  • There is no guarantee of the outcome of the forthcoming elections or who will form the next administration. Your claim is therefore presumptive and disingenuous to candidate councillors and to the IW electorate.

We require you to answer the following questions publicly:

  1. Why are you deliberately misleading the public by repeating the false claim that in every ward it is only Conservatives and Labour who can win, when in 38/39 wards this does not apply?
  2. Why are you falsely claiming that County Council elections with 39 wards with very different identities and numerous Independent candidates can be equated with an election to the Westminster Parliament?
  3. What are you actually afraid of, attempting to hide behind this phony binary focus on local politics?

We believe that elections should be fought openly and with integrity. It is most disappointing that the Isle of Wight Conservative Party, under your leadership as their Election Agent, refuses to communicate with the electorate honestly.

SIGNED BY (in alphabetical order):

  • Doug Alldred – Brighstone, Calbourne, & Shalfleet
  • Patrick Barry – Lake South
  • Sue Betts – Wootton Bridge
  • Jonathan Bacon – Brading and St Helens
  • Geoff Brodie – Pan & Barton
  • Jaimie Bundell – Newport West
  • Claire Critchison – Chale, Niton and Shorwell
  • Ian Dore – Binstead and Fishbourne
  • Pauline Evans – Sandown South
  • Paul Fuller – Cowes West and Gurnard 
  • Mike Hailston – Shanklin South
  • Paul Hampton – Ryde Appley and Elmfield
  • Jenny Hicks – Sandown South
  • Jessica Higgins – Ryde South East 
  • Daniel James – Freshwater North & Yarmouth
  • Chris Jarman – Totland and Colwell
  • Mark Jeffries – Ventnor and St Lawrence
  • Julie Jones-Evans – Newport Central 
  • Julia Laursen – Central Rural
  • Joe Lever – Carisbrooke & Gunville
  • Karen Lucioni – Ryde Monktonmead
  • John Medland – Freshwater South
  • Tracy Mikich – Ryde South East
  • David Moorse – Shanklin Central
  • Cameron Palin – Osborne
  • Martyn Ridgley – Newchurch, Havenstreet and Ashey 
  • Stephen J Rushbrook – Newport Central
  • Michael Salmon – Ryde North West
  • Michael Smith – Fairlee & Whippingham
  • Alasdair Steane – Bembridge
  • Ian Stephens – Ryde West
  • Natalie Thomas – Ryde South East
  • Phil Warren – Ventnor and St Lawrence
  • Adrian Whittaker – Lake North
  • Paul A.T. Wilson – Lake North 

Image: © With kind permission of Allan Marsh

Thursday, 29th April, 2021 9:25am

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ShortURL: http://wig.ht/2ooI

Filed under: Election, Island-wide, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight News, Politics, Top story

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17 Comments on "35 IW candidates sign letter accusing Conservatives of questionable election tactics. Campaign director David Pugh responds"

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Mike Starke
Motivated only by “Colin’s” plea for “a little more entertainment” in the run-up to next week’s council elections, I offer the following: as an old fogey with a memory as long as my beard, I seem to recall – with a little help from my press cuttings library – that the Daily Mirror of 11 September 2003 carried this tasty tit-bit: “… The Tory party’s (national) youth… Read more »
Colin

@Mike Starke. That’s more like it. Pughtin. Excellent. Brought a large smile to my face.

VentnorLad
Is this the same David Pugh who was described as a “cheating bastard” in 2003? By a member of his own party! The same foul-mouthed yob made infamous by the “PughTube” saga? The very same individual who was subject to a vote of no confidence by IOWC Unison members because of his cuts to public services? The same Pugh who made a colossal mess of Cowes Enterprise… Read more »
Colin
About time the mud slinging increased. With only a few days to go, this years effort has been derisory. With the Tories atrocious record there for all to see on failing to deliver just about anything they promised then I look forward to a little more entertainment in the final week of electioneering. The only way to get rid of Pugh is not to let any of… Read more »
palmerston

Mr Pugh may therefore wish to note that I shall vote only for independants – such is my disillusionment with mainstream politics – and I feel this is particularly important for the Police & Crime Commissioner role where some impartiality would surely be a pre-requisite. There again, he may treat such an observation with the kind of total disdain that politicians habitually exhibit in recent times.

Eagle eye
Mr Pugh’s reply clearly shows why all islanders should be voting for Independent candidates in the “local” elections. Mr Pugh has clearly highlighted not only his own party’s failings but is happy to show the failings of other candidates that are standing under a political banner. It is time to take mainstream politics out of local run councils which should be run for the benefit of residents.… Read more »
newman
Seems our local Tories are taking a leaf out of the Wellingborough Conservative Party handbook, remember their newsletter on sleaze tactics? “A lie can go round the world before the truth can get its boots on… “You say the first thing that comes into your head … It’ll probably be nonsense, but it knocks your opponent out of his stride and takes away his headline… “You may… Read more »
I do not believe it

Absolutely anything at all shrouded in the sinister shadow of Mr Poo is suspect.

porter

Boris has just come out with that classic one liner, ‘nothing to see here’.

Apparently, the enquiries will not be made pubic, and they report back to the PM with any recommendations. You really couldn’t make half this stuff up!

hialtitude

“Most councils across England are run by a majority of one political party. Pugh.

Not buying this, the Isle of Wight is a unitary council, there are I believe, 58 unitary councils, of these 58 there are 23 in a state of NOC, (no overall control).

ansallmoneyfordyouknow

All I have to say is, Boris is simply Boris and to expect more is comparable to someone expecting a pig to fly.

Angela Hewitt
The Conservatives are a hundred times better at electioneering than anyone else. They understand the pathetic side of human behaviour. They aren’t called the nasty party for nothing and “Pughtin” thanks Mike – fits the bill to a T. All the other parties (apart from 2 that are even more right wing than the tories which I shall not name for fear of publicising them) are nice… Read more »
Steve Goodman

Not so sure about some of that generalization; for example, voters in the Brighton part of Britain obviously like the nice and knowledgeable Caroline Lucas…

melting

I have always thought that local councils should be apolitical.

Angela Hewitt

PS Pughtin must be rubbing his hands with glee. In politics nice people need to learn how to sling mud – but I guess the tories are wise enough to ignore it.

smallbrookjunction1

Boredom as usual from the hard left marxist cult followers of island Labour. All island voters must keep these dangerous people away from any power our Peaceful island.

VentnorLad

Here we go again!

Labour is not a Marxist Party. It is at its heart a democratic socialist party.

Those two things are not the same. Any suggestion that they are is utter nonsense.

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