At last night’s Isle of Wight Conservative Association (IWCA) AGM, members voted for a new team of Officers.
Former Isle of Wight council leader, David Pugh, was elected as chairman of the association, with former Isle of Wight councillor for Lake South, Ray Bloomfield, as his vice-chairman.
OnTheWight understands that former Chairman, Ian Ward, could have stood for another year.
Joe Robertson, who put himself forward as an election candidate hopeful in last year’s general election, has been appointed as Deputy Chairman (Political), whilst Wendy Murwill has been appointed Deputy Chairman (Membership & Fundraising).
Pugh: “Focus on strengthening our membership”
Newly-elected Chairman, David Pugh, told OnTheWight today,
“The Association plays a crucial role in promoting the Conservative cause here on the Isle of Wight.
“We are fortunate to once again have a Conservative-run local authority and a Conservative MP in support of a Conservative Government. IWCA will continue to support Cllr Dave Stewart (and his fellow elected members) and Bob Seely MP as they work hard to deliver improvements for the Island.
“In terms of the Association, the Officers will seek to build on what has been achieved by Ian Ward and his team. We will focus on strengthening our membership and fundraising efforts to ensure we are ready for future campaigns – particularly for local and general elections.”
Whitehouse to leave the Conservatives?
At the beginning of the week, Isle of Wight councillor for Newport West, Cllr Chris Whitehouse, issued a press release swearily-declaring:
“Along with many councillor colleagues, I would find it impossible to continue to serve as a Conservative if the man who wrecked the Island’s education system so comprehensively were elected Association Chairman. It would be an insult to a generation of children and their parents. We’re still undoing the damage he did – damage so bad that the entire Island school system was put into special measures by the national Government. This wouldn’t be a joke, it would be a nightmare and would divide and risk completely destroying the Conservative Association. I’m not surprised Pugh has kept his plan secret until the very last minute. It’s bl**dy typical.”
David Pugh told OnTheWight,
“If Cllr Whitehouse wishes to resign from the Conservative Group that is a matter for him. I intend to meet with Cllr Dave Stewart in the near future, and no doubt this matter will be discussed.”
Clarifying Cllr Whitehouse’s claims
To try and ascertain what Cllr Whitehouse meant and what actions may follow, OnTheWight has written the following to him today:
You issued a press release earlier this week where you stated, “Along with many councillor colleagues” that you “would find it impossible to continue to serve as a Conservative”, if David Pugh gained the position he has. Would you please answer the following:
1. Please put a figure on how many councillor colleagues, like you, “would find it impossible to continue to serve as a Conservative”?
2. The wording “would find it impossible to continue to serve as a Conservative” is woolly and open to mis/interpretation, please detail what this means practically?
3. What actions do you intend to take?
4. Do you intend to resign as an Isle of Wight councillor?
Update 10 Apr 2018: As yet, OnTheWight has received been no response from Cllr Whitehouse, but he did issue a statement on the Saturday after the new appointments where he claimed he would be, “suspending all my active involvement with the Isle of Wight Conservative Association for a minimum period of 6 months”.
How this addresses Cllr Whitehouse’s previous statement that he, “would find it impossible to continue to serve as a Conservative,” while David Pugh was Association Chairman is unclear.
As yet, there’s been no public statement from the “many councillor colleagues” that Cllr Whitehouse held the same conviction.