IW Conservatives are trying to frame the upcoming election as generally them vs Labour. Is that accurate? (updated)

In 28 of the 39 wards, the Conservatives say the only choice in the election is them versus Labour. The leaders of other parties have this to say about that claim

Polling station sign with blue sky in background

During the 2019 General Election the message that came from Island Conservatives was that the only choice for voters was Conservative versus Labour.

A year or so later this message has appeared again, this time in the 2021 Isle of Wight council elections.

Council election letter
The majority of Conservative election letters feature a box that reads:

THE CHOICE IN [name of IWC ward]: Conservative vs Labour
Although town / parish councils are non-political, the IoW Council elections are more like Westminster – with a choice between political parties, to provide a clear direction at County Hall.

Dismisses other candidates
The letters go on to state the number of candidates standing in that particular ward and claim that as the Conservatives have 39 candidates and Labour 28, they are the only parties who have enough candidates to form a majority on the Council.

In wards where a Labour candidate isn’t standing, for example Ryde Appley and Elmfield, the Conservative letter says the choice is Conservatives vs Green.

Conservative Letter for Ryde Appley and Elmfield

On one letter, seen by News OnTheWight, it states the independent candidate “would be sat on the side-lines as a lone voice, with little influence”.

Conservative letter for Cowes West and Gurnard

This somewhat ignores the 2013 election where the Conservatives got a drubbing at the hands of the Island Independents, who swept to power, with the Conservatives having to make do with 15 seats.

What the other parties think of the claim
News OnTheWight contacted leaders for Island Independent Group of councillors, Our Island, Green Party, Vectis Party, Island Labour, Island Independent Network and Liberal Democrats to hear their views on the Cons vs Lab message.

In alphabetical order here are their responses.

Andre: Conservatives “out of touch with reality”
Debbie Andre, who is currently leader of Island Independent Group of councillors (formed within County Hall after the 2013 election), said,

“Having failed as an administration over the past four years, the Conservative claims that this election is between themselves and Labour, shows how out of touch with reality they really are.

“The real strength of a future administration lies with non-Tory candidates who will work together for the Island.”

Bacon: Conservative “claims are seriously misleading”
Jonathan Bacon from Our Island said,

“The Conservative claims are seriously misleading. In my view, the vast majority of Labour candidates are ‘paper’ candidates, but in every ward there is either an Independent, an Our Island candidate a Liberal or a Green who presents the main alternative to the Conservative, and who, in many cases, is likely to win.

“The Conservatives are giving a false picture to the electorate knowing that such candidates are ready and able to work together as a strong and cohesive new Administration.”

Lowthion: “Greens are main opposition to Conservatives”
Vix Lowthion of the IW Green Party told News OnTheWight,

“In 2017 the Isle of Wight Green Party came second in 14 Isle of Wight county council seats, beating both Labour and the Lib Dems in regards to the Vote share, showing that Greens are the main opposition to the Conservatives across the Island.

“On 6th May Islanders have to make a choice about who they want representing them and who is best placed to do that for their community. Our Green candidates in Newport, Ryde, East Cowes, Shanklin and all the rural villages from West Wight to the centre of the Island are in the strongest position to bring that change.”

Quigley: Not the case in local elections
Richard Quigley of Island Labour told News OnTheWight,

“It’s true in a General election, but not in the local elections. They are scared their disgruntled voters will vote Independent, Green or Lib Dem as a protest.

“We are fighting for every vote, but don’t have a candidate in every ward.

“The Conservatives only need to lose five seats to lose control of the council.”

Stephens: “A sad indictment of a failed local administration”
Ian Stephens of Island Independent Network, told News OnTheWight,

“The statement made within the election letters are a sad indictment of a failed local administration who are endeavouring to cling on to the control of the IWC by introducing national politics into local elections.

“The real message seems to be ‘Vote for a dose of Tory Amnesia’ as it was only a short time ago that I led successful independents and took over from a Tory administration, who had left the Island education system on the rocks. It was an independent administration that pulled things back on track and onto a positive path.

“The arrogance of the Conservative letter suggests that they still have not learned a lesson or two, which spells danger if they are returned to continue their operations behind closed doors and delegated decisions.

“I suggest reaching for the salt cellar might have more effect than believing the whispered wishful thinking of a desperate local conservative letter.”

Nick Stuart Chair of the Liberal Democrats stated,

“We read with disbelief the Conservatives story as the Council has one other party with seats – Lib Dems. No Green, no Labour.

“In Central Wight and Osborne and Whippingham stand alone by-elections we came second.

“Now we see similar odd claims from Green. Results on 6th May are what matter, not airy nonsense.”

Article edit
8am 29th Apr 2021 – Comment from Nick Stuart added, reference to Island Independents amended to include Group of councillors

Image: bagelmouse under CC BY 2.0

Wednesday, 28th April, 2021 6:58pm

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

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20 Comments on "IW Conservatives are trying to frame the upcoming election as generally them vs Labour. Is that accurate? (updated)"

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Rupert Besley

Thank you for this report, a good antidote to the false claims being made by one party.

andy

It perfectly illustrates the arrogance of a self entitled political elite who can even be bothered to engage with the electorate in a hustings event. They are scared stiff they might be held to account.

Do any of the Conservative candidates deserve any of islander’s votes?

dav1
Of course it’s true … if you ignore the facts 🤣 It just shows how myopic this administration is … or worse … how happy they are to lie to get what they want! It only lakes 4 lost seats to swing the power away from the CONservatives and they will stop at nothing to try to persuade others to live in their own delusional world –… Read more »
newman

It should come as no surprise that the party that’s made mendacity its modus operandi is once again misleading the electorate. What more could one expect from the members of a party that accepts the most dishonest British politician in living memory as its leader.

ian123

Of course they are, because Labour is always the Conservatives’ favourite opponent. The Tories know that Labour aren’t competitive in many wards around the island, and people voting Labour will essentially be throwing away their chance of electing a better councillor than their current one.

Voters should use their intelligence and local knowledge to identify the best Independent for their town or rural area.

Geoff Brodie
ian123 – I can confirm that about the Tory’s favourites. As a former Island Labour agent (in the ‘halcyon’ days when they had as many as 5 IW councillors) the local party was always very happy to have the Tories portray Labour as their main opponent. It helped their argument that the Liberals were a wasted vote post-Steve Ross. The current antipathy with the Greens harks back… Read more »
VentnorLad
Most voters are not selecting the “best” candidate. They are selecting the “least bad” one. I struggle to see how this can be an Independent when there is no realistic mechanism for Independent candidates to deliver on their promises if elected. Without forming a majority in Council, Independent Councillors will be unable to influence most of the business of the Council. If they join with a minority… Read more »
Geoff Brodie
There is no other ‘non-Conservative’ vote in my ward. As a lone Labour councillor for 5 of my 16 years I learnt very quickly how to ‘influence’ things to the advantage of my residents without having formal arrangements with other councillors. I continued that when I left Labour in 2018. Labour and LibDems were invited by me and others to do just what you suggest. Both refused.… Read more »
greenfiremouse
VentnorLad, I disagree with your opinion that a coalition with others means that an Independent cannot be independent any longer. Being in a coalition carries compromises with it, but that’s politics for you in its purest form, and definitely democratic. However, I do realise that a number of “independent” candidates here on the Isle of Wight were put into place by the Tory Party for the only… Read more »
Eagle eye
This reeks of desperation. The Tories obviously have something to hide otherwise why go to such lengths to discredit independent candidates. We need a different administration in County Hall to look at the failures of the PFI contract, the floating bridge, education etc. Every thing done during this administration should be thoroughly investigate. Do we really want another four years of David Pugh running the council with… Read more »
tomtelford

Former constituency Ryde South was represented by CONSERVATIVE Charles Chapman . Now standing as an INDEPENDANT in the new constituency Ryde Monktonmead. It would be my bet that if he is elected he will return to the fold as in the last election. Would be interested to hear the Isle of Wight Conservative Party chairman David Pugh s comment.

broc

The only way to achieve the numbers to oust the Torys from County Hall is the coalition of elected Independants to form an Independant Council

cjww
Yes, sadly your supposition is very accurate. In their shameful leaflets ‘Cons’ take IOW electors for granted and assume people will vote like lemmings. But guess what – there are others that really care about their communities, that want to foster a sense of Island pride, to ensure the infrastructure is here to promote wellbeing, to do everything possible to support our economy and jobs, and to… Read more »
nyeve
It is natural for any political party which is conservative to want to keep things as they are, especially when the ruling party is overtly “Conservative.” This means, in the UK, that they will fight to defend the bipolar (two-party) system, which, coupled with Winner-Loser (first past the post) voting, means that a significant number of voters will never be represented by their favoured candidates. I do… Read more »
Steve Goodman

We have seen that it’s been a long time since the Cons. stopped being conservative and became the party mainly responsible for ditching and breaking what was cherished for generations and changing things for the worse with increasing speed…

Spartacus
How can anybody vote for a Tory sleaze party that has mishandled a pandemic, underfunded and run down our treasured NHS and care sector for years, ignored the huge contribution and sacrifice of front line workers and imposed austerity for over a decade. Britain is broken under this heartless uncaring rabble. This beautiful Island is being controlled by class, money, nepotism and activities that do not protect… Read more »
Angela Hewitt

The Tories are frightened of loss of income. Most of them are on pensions and need a top up.
So Vix where is you campaign – The choice is between Old Tory methods or New Green Methods.
Labour had never had a foothold or even a toenail in Island politics

Geoff Brodie
Incorrect. The former Newport Borough Council was run by Labour when it was abolished by the 1970-74 Tory government. There was even 4 Labour IW Councillors when you were one 1998-2001 – that period of your life you seem to want to hide. There have been just 2 Green IW councillors ever – one in 1989 and the other in 2017, who then left the party. Facts… Read more »
ian123
If you are reduced to going back to 1970 to try and establish political relevance in 2021, you really have lost the argument! The principal impact of Labour on island politics nowadays is that its candidates draw enough votes away from sensible independents to ensure that the Conservatives always win. Why do you think the Conservatives like fighting Labour so much, and are so keen falsely to… Read more »
Geoff Brodie

I’m not in the argument! I just don’t like historical inaccuracies. You rightly refer to ‘nowadays’. Ms H refers to ‘never’.

Of course a Labour, or LibDem, or Green, person could say exactly the same as you about independents. Some of those in recent years have been dreadful, including one or two of the current candidates.