Both Bob Piper and Tom Watson have picked up on the forthright views of senior – in every sense – Sandwell Tory councillor Bill Archer, who is less than complimentary in his assessment of David Cameron’s leadership.
“He’s just totally out of touch with the law and order issue” said Archer. “It’s the number one concern. People want to see the punishment fit the crime. We don’t exploit that,” he said.
“We had the Shadow Attorney General Dominic Grieve down the other week, and he said that if we get back into power we’ll build more prisons.
“I told that we wouldn’t need more prisons if the conditions were so harsh people didn’t want to go there in the first place.”
Archer’s old-style views on crime – and immigration too – hark back to the kind of traditional right-wing Tory party the current leadership is attempting to distance itself from, but they are fashioned by years of experience.
Fashioned by rather more than years of experience at the moment from what my sources tell me as Bill, whose daughter is standing for re-election in Wednesbury North – and one or two other local Tories have had rather an unpleasant surprise this year…
…for the first time since their reappearance on the local scene in 2003, the BNP are running candidates in wards with a sitting Conservative councillor.
In recent years, Labour supporters in West Bromwich West – and even over the border in West Bromwich East -have noted one or two rather curious coincidences come local election time.
The BNP, who’ve based their local election strategy exclusively on targeting white working class areas, particularly those with council estates, have seemed until this year, to have something of blind spot when it comes to a couple of choice loca\l wards in which the local population would seems to just the kind of voters they’re trying to attact – Wednesbury North is one such area, Charlemont and Grove Vale in West Bromwich East, is another – and the only thing that these areas seem to have in common, other than the demographics of their population and lack of a BNP challenge is that they both have sitting Tory councillors.
Funnily enough, at the same time that BNP have been studiously ignoring these areas, the Tories have experienced a rather embarrassing inability to find candidates to put up in some the BNP’s key target wards. In 2004, and with all three seats up for grabs, the Tories (and the Lib Dems, to be fair) failed to put up a single candidate in Tividale, leaving local people with a choice of three councillors from Labour candidates and a single BNP candidate.
And only last year, in Great Bridge, the Tories, again, failed to find anyone to fight a key BNP target ward, giving a clear run to Sandwell’s premier holocaust denier, Simon Smith, who picked up the seat from Labour.
By now, one might be inclined to wonder if something a little suspicious might have been going on, were it not for the fact that this year the BNP have rediscovered the existence of both Wednesbury North and Charlemont with Grove Vale, as well as Blackheath, which still has one Labour councillor but has seen Tory gains over the last two local elections.
Obviously, with the BNP now putting up candidates against sitting Tory councillors and in what must the Tory’s main target ward for this election, there can be no question that everything that has gone before was mere coincidence… even if, during that time, one unsuccessful Tory candidate did put out an election leaflet in which they were pictured shaking hands with an ex-BNP West Midland organiser ,who’s wife was once deputy leader of the BNP until both had a major falling out with Nick Griffin, and there several people I know of who will swear blind that they saw a senior local Tory sat in a car, deep in conversation with a current BNP organiser.
Or there would be no such question were my sources in and around Sandwell’s Council House not reporting to me that one or two Tory councillors have suddenly taken to referring to the BNP as ‘bastards’ of late – i.e. since nominations for this upcoming election opened – and to mumbling words like ‘deal’ and ‘renege’ whenever they think that no one is listening.
As a result, rumours persist that up until recently the BNP and certain local Tories may have been ‘going easy’ on each other – although I should stress that Bill Archer’s name has not come up in this context, he’s always been on the right-wing of the Tory Party as is saying nothing that would be inconsistent with his long-expressed political views – well, those he expresses when he’s not visiting one of the Mosque’s in his ward, but that’s another story entirely
Clearly, however if any such ‘arrangements’ did exist they are no longer in operation, much to the alleged consternation of local Tories.
And to think, some Tories moaned about their party cutting deals with the Lib Dems over running Greg Dyke for Mayor of London…