Cameron’s use of the Veto did Britain Proud

If you have read Bill Cawley’s article on the site about David Cameron’s
use of the veto at EU negotiations last week, you’d be forgiven for
thinking that the city might cease to exist as a viable entity at any
moment solely as a result of Mr Cameron’s actions. I’m afraid that Bill’s
piece was of course entirely wrong, biased and misleading-and deliberately
so, as he openly admits in the first paragraph, he has been an apologist
for the EU since the project was first devised in the backrooms by
politicians with a plan to create a new superstate all those many years
ago.

It’s not going to do anyone any good for me to start having a go at Bill
for his support of the EU project because we all know the arguments, we
all have out views and I doubt anything we say here will change them on
either side of the debate. Neither am going to get into his absurd talk
about the dangers of withdrawal because-much as many of us might like it,
and much as we know it would benefit the country-that was not on the
agenda at this summit.

So what does it boil down to? EU nations-excluding Britain-will be able to
hold secret meetings on how to prop up their all or nothing Euro project.
Not exactly the biggest disaster to have befallen our country I’d have
thought, since as one of the few country’s to have taken the very wise
decision to stay OUTSIDE the Euro we had little or no real influence on
the development of that particular folly anyway.

Second, EU countries-excluding Britain-will now have to submit their
budgets to the approval of unelected EU beaurocrats and face tough
controls on their debt and public spending plans. As was pointed out in
the House of Commons on Monday, if Britain had signed up to such an
arrangement it would actually render the policies of the Labour Party here
in the UK completely illegal as the bonkers plans of Miliband and Balls is
to further increase the debt and spend even more public money to boost the
economy. Presumably, Bill Cawley and all the other socialists that have
cheered him would think such an arrangement intolerable. Indeed,
Stoke-on-Trent would have been very hard and very directly hit if David
Cameron HAD signed up to such an agreement last week. perhaps that’s why
behind the public protests, even Mr Miliband is now accepting that he
would have done precisely the same thing and used the veto in Mr Cameron’s
place.

Third, the EU wanted to put regulations and restrictions onto financial
transactions 80% of which take place in the City of London. It would
effectively have been a special City of London tax designed to EXPORT jobs
and business from the UK to the continent, propping up their Eurozone
project but hitting the UK economy very hard indeed. Bill Cawley gives us
all the usual socialist propaganda about banker bashing and City of London
spivs receiving unfair protection, but lets be quite clear that the City
of London creates jobs and creates wealth that all of us mere mortals rely
upon for our country’s economic stability and well-being. Cameron would
have been an absolute fool to have agreed to the sort of regulations that
the EU were proposing.

Bill talks a good talk about the plight of the ordinary person who is
already hurting thanks to the economic catastrophe that we inherited from
Gordon Brown. But will Bill do more than offer tea and sympathy to those
people who would be made unemployed here in Stoke-on-Trent if the very
regulations he has written in defence of had been agreed by David Cameron
last week? I think not.

At the end of the day, the most important thing that a British Prime
Minister is charged with is defending the British national interest and
security. We must not allow swivel-eyed Euro obsessive’s across all
parties and none to mesmerize us into agreeing to everything the EU
demands even if it is against our own national interest. To be honest, not
many of us give a damn about the well-being of France and Germany when it
is our own people who are hurting. They look after themselves and so must
we.

We cannot sacrifice our national interest on the alter of Europeanism just
so that our leaders can say that they are at the heart of the EU project
and exercise some mythical ‘influence’ that cannot really be defined. And
ANY politician or activist who says otherwise should condemn themselves.

My Worries About The Future Of the City

Why I worry that the City may suffer for a long time as a result of the
election results last week

Well the elections are all over now and the new council team are firmly in
place. We’re hearing the traditional post-election fine words about a
better tomorrow, everbody pulling together, a team that is second to none
etc etc.

I do wish Mohammed Pervez and his Labour cabinet well. They have a lot of
tough choices to make and they’re going to find it difficult when the
reality starts to bite. Blaming the Westminster coalition of Mr Cameron
may have got Labour through the short-term local elections, but it will
simply not be good enough as a long term strategy when they are having to
vote for service cuts and tax rises over the coming months and years.

So we’re all well aware of the crisis that the city faces financially,
culturally and politically and we are going to be talking a lot about that
in the future. But the city now faces a longer-term crisis because of the
election results the other week that most people probably will not even
pick up on until it is too late. I am talking about nothing less than a
crisis of our local democracy.

Because of the decisions the electorate made the other week, councillors
of vast experience were ejected from office from all parties. The
rottweilers who would have held this Labour council to account have almost
all gone. We have the most inexperienced council of our lifetimes.

In most cases, the electorate did not consider for a single moment
candidates experience, performance or suitability for the job. Councillors
were ejected whether they were good, bad or indifferent. It made very
little difference if you had spent the last 4 years working the ward and
knocking on doors, or whether you sat on your backside in the town hall
all day and never spoke to a single voter. The single consideration it
seems that the electorate made was whether the candidates were Labour or
not Labour, and then they put their cross unthinkingly in the Labour box.
It was of course very frustrating and dissapointing…unless you were
Labour.

But now we have a problem. Roll on four years time (with a general
election most probably on the same day, and you only have to look back to
2010 to see how Labour will sweep the board in that case) and things start
to look very bad for organised opposition to Labour in the City of
Stoke-on-Trent. Without a single councillor to fly their flag, the Lib
Dems will not be back on the council any time soon and with no local
elections now for four years, there will be little incentive for any party
to keep their campaign machine busy.

As a longtime Conservative activist, I know what state the local party was
already in before these elections. With no reason to keep their
campaigners and activists busy-and with Cllr Abi Brown (who has
revolutionised local campaigning) due to step down as Chairman of the
local party early next year-I really do worry that we may be witnessing
the end of that local party in any meaningful sense outside of perhaps
Trentham and Meir Park. The local party has come to rely heavily on
student campaigners in recent years (based at Keele), and most of these
will now begin to gravitate away from Stoke politics naturally (remember
that Newcastle will continue to hold annual elections and much of the Tory
campaign focus will now shift there).

And the older, more battle-hardened activists may go the same way. Former
councillors Clive Brian and Ross Irving will in all probability not stand
for office again. John Daniels, disillusioned with Stoke, has decided to
leave the city (and I can’t honestly blame him). Is Hazel Lyth and Joanne
Powell-Beckett really going to hang around for the next four years
attending pointless local party meetings and working for the party until
the next local election (again, and I can’t emphasise this enough,
probably on the same day as a general election!).

Will the Lib Dems-now without a single seat on the council-really be back
so soon? Will the various Independents who have had their fingers burnt by
the electorate and now feeling dejected and demoralised see any reason to
carry on in local politics? The BNP will always be there of course, but
one feels that their heyday has passed for the time being. Now facing a
decade in the wilderness, I doubt they will be able to muster much by way
of campaigning in the years to come.

ALL parties and none (bar Labour) suffered at the hands of the electorate.
All are now broken and demoralised. It will not be an easy path back for
any of them. I doubt many will be able to field as many candidates in four
years time as they did this year. So what does that leave us? An all
powerful Labour Party, the most inexperienced in history facing the
greatest challenges in our history. A Labour Party with absolute power.
Only a token opposition in the town hall and barely none outside it.

The lack of opposition means very little so close to Labour’s fantastic
victory. But as the years go by, as the cuts start to bite, as mistakes
are made, as the shine starts to go from this Labour council people will
start to ask why there isn’t any opposition. And when the next local
elections come round and people find they have no credible opposition
candidates in most of the wards, people will be asking why. And in a
decade, two decades and three decades when people start to ask where the
opposition to Labour is…answer there will come back none.

This is what the electorate have chosen. This is the City they have
created. If you think that Labour holds all the answers and never makes
any mistakes, then there is no problem. But if like me you think that some
form of opposition scrutiny is important-however good the government might
be-then I urge you to be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

Shaun Bennett BA(Hons),MA
Defeated Independent candidate, Hollybush and Longton West

500 Words From Shaun Bennett

I have the honour and the privilege of being able to stand as the
Independent candidate for my own home ward of Hollybush and Longton West.

I have lived in Hollybush for the past 20 years. My friends and family
live in and around the ward, and for the past six years I have also worked
in the ward. So I have such a lot of personal interest invested in this
ward. I understand the problems that local people face because they affect
me too. Some other candidates have tried to get people to believe that
they live in the Hollybush area when they do not. But both the Labour and
Tory candidates live as far away as Weston Coyney. We need someone living
‘above the shop’, in the local community, listening to local people and
who is just around the corner when people need them.

Whilst the Labour candidate has relied upon nationally drawn up leaflets
printed outside the city and not talking about the local community at all,
I have being focussing on local issues and local people. For example,
buses are a big issue in the ward and I have pledged to work to restore
the number 40 Copelands bus to the Hollybush estate which local pensioners
have relied upon for the past 12 years. Parking is another big
issue-residents bays in Hollybush were planned incorrectly by the Labour
controlled City council and encourage double parking so that emergency
vehicles and buses cannot get full access to the estate. Housing and
anti-social behaviour are other big priorities for the ward and I will
always work to ensure that the system is on the side of the ordinary
decent citizen rather than the ‘neighbours from hell’ or the hooligan on
the street corner.

500 words is nowhere near enough to present a full plan for the ward and
the problems that we face. I shall therefore end by saying that as well as
the local issues I have spoken about above I believe that it is time for a
complete new broom in our town hall. We must work harder to encourage
business and investment into the city. We are ideally placed
geographically for business and of course we now need to be designated as
an enterprise zone to prevent investment from slipping away. I want a
reversal in the ever increasing city parking charges-including the
restoration of free evening and Sunday parking-to bring more shoppers into
the city. And I want to work towards actually being able to REDUCE the tax
burden on the overtaxed residents of the city.

Under Labour, we have paid some of the highest taxes for some of the worst
services in the country. But other authorities have shown that you CAN
reduce the tax burden whilst also getting better value and more efficient
local services. Its time for Stoke-on-Trent to change and reform the way
in which we do business. Its time for a common-sense revolution in the
town hall.

Shaun Bennett
Independent Candidate, Hollybush and Longton West

Stoke-on-Trent Conservative De-Selected As Local Election Candidate

City of Stoke-on-Trent Conservative Member Shaun Bennett has been formally de-selected as a candidate for the upcoming local council elections.

The decision was made last night [Wednesday]at a hastily arranged meeting of the Special Executive Committee of the City of Stoke-on-Trent Conservative Association.

It follows comments made by Mr Bennett opposing the Conservatives coalition agreement locally with Labour, the Liberal Democrats and The City Independent Group, which are understood to have angered members of the Conservative group on the City Council.

Pits n Pots believes that Shaun had also upset members including Cllr Hazel Lyth and Cllr John Daniels in comments made by him on this website.

It is not yet known whether Mr Bennett will appeal against the decision.

Sources have revealed that Mr Bennett may well be joining the City Independent Group and could well partner current City Councillor Terry Follows in the Hanford & Trentham ward.

Stoke-on-Trent Conservative Suffers For His Tory Principles

Outspoken Conservative Shaun Bennett may well be de-selected as a Conservative Candidate for the Stoke-on-Trent all out local council elections at a hastily arranged meeting this coming Wednesday [23rd March]

It appears that some of his comments opposing the Conservatives coalition agreement locally with Labour, the Liberal Democrats and The City Independent Group, have angered members of the Conservative group on the City Council.

Sources have revealed that Shaun has also upset members including Cllr Hazel Lyth and Cllr John Daniels over comments he has made on Pits n Pots.

The Special Executive Committee of the City of Stoke-on-Trent Conservative Association will meet at the civic centre to discuss the following motion:


“The Conservative Group ask the Executive to reconsider the adoption of Shaun Bennett as a Conservative Party candidate in the local elections 2011, as we have concerns he will not abide by the Group’s rules on Collective Responsibility, based on comments made recently on the internet about both the Group and individual members.”

A letter obtained by Pits n Pots suggests that Shaun Bennett is un-repentant for his comments and hits right back at those who would deny him his opinion.

Dear Members of the Executive,

It seems that members of the Conservative Group have now achieved their long held plans and initiated a special meeting of the executive to discuss my de-selection as a Conservative candidate at this election. Since the decision has effectively already been made, I have little desire to humiliate myself by coming before you personally to oppose this spurious case. Instead, I am writing this letter to you all as a defence against the charges that I now find levelled against me.

It appears that the group’s decision to call this meeting and recommend my de-selection rests upon just a single charge: that I have spoken out against Conservative involvement in the Labour led coalition and specifically that I have said that I would not have supported the budget imposing Labour’s programme of cuts upon this city.

Let me be quite clear from the start and say that I do not oppose the principle that cuts must be made. I am not an oppositionist for the sake of opposition. I am prepared to support tough choices, and I supported every tough choice that Conservatives made when we were leading the coalition just over 12 months ago.

What I do NOT support however, and will not support is LABOUR’S programme of cuts which has been designed specifically to hit the most vulnerable in our city the hardest; deliberately and calculatedly as a means of putting a noose around the neck of the Conservative government at Westminster and ensuring the election of a Labour majority on the city council in May. That the ‘so called’ Conservative group has chosen to go along with Labour’s cuts really does speak volumes about how our council group has now lost its way and abandoned the people and the principles upon which they were elected.

The charge raised against me is that I have broken collective responsibility; that I have opposed the decision of the group to support Labour’s political budget of cuts. And the answer to that charge is very simple: as I am not a councillor at present I am not BOUND by the collective decisions of the Conservative group. I am not an officer of the party, I am not a councillor, at the moment until nominations close I am not even an official candidate. I can in fact speak as I like about whatever I like without penalty.

I am not bound by any rule of the party to support decisions made before my election and membership of the group comes into effect. By the time that occurs of course, Labour will have a huge overall majority on the city council and Conservatives will no longer be involved in any formal coalition. Indeed, following the elections in May, I suspect the then OPPOSITION Conservative councillors will be taking much the same view on many of these issues as I have taken today. At that time, coalition decisions will magically become ‘Labour decisions’; the coalition’s budget will transmogrify before our very eyes into ‘Labour’s budget’ as we try desperately to wash our group’s hands of the consequences of those ‘collective decisions’.

The group, by taking this extraordinary action against me today, are seeking to rewrite the rules of the party. Under their scheme, all Conservative members will be bound to support whatever they say whether it is in line with party policy or not. And as we all know from our experiences in the past-ordinary members will have no say whatsoever over what those decisions consist of.

I hope that as an executive you will vote to reject the group’s recommendation for de-selection. However, whatever the outcome, I do not apologise for what I have said. This case will determine whether we remain a true Conservative Party in this city, or whether we surrender to anti-conservative forces and abandon all those who want to support genuine Conservatism.

If the choice is to support the strategic errors of the local Conservative group or to line up alongside the Conservative government of David Cameron, I’m afraid my loyalty to the Conservative Party commits me to go to the defence of the government against labour’s frontline cuts agenda. I’m sorry that that is no longer compatible with the views of the Conservative Group in Stoke-on-Trent in the year 2011.

Yours Sincerely

Shaun Bennett BA(Hons), MA
Former Deputy Chairman (Stoke South)
Former Deputy Chairman (Stoke Central)
Former Deputy Chairman (Stoke)
Former Treaurer (Stoke)

Shaun Bennett was unavailable for comment today.

500 Words From Shaun Bennett Conservative and Unionist Candidate For Hartshill and Penkhull


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**Archive Story From 2010 Election**
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This can be a great city once again, but many of our existing council representatives and officers have consistently failed to look after the interests of us, the residents and taxpayers of the city. We need a new broom to sweep away many of the old and out of touch councillors and their way of doing things. Only by making a fresh start together can we restore faith in our local politics and move the city forward.

My main priorities are to work with the police to tackle anti-social behaviour and crime in the city and to clean up our streets to create a great environment for our children to grow up in.

We must build strong communities, strong families and strong community groups to repair our broken society. But this cannot be achieved by government alone. We have to stop the cycle of decline at root-in the family home. As government, we must offer an outstanding education and promote opportunity for all whether in academic or in vocational education.

We must not be content with Stoke-on-Trent to remain a low-paid, low skilled city dominated by warehousing and bargain basement shops. Perhaps the first priority of the new council must be to bring business and enterprise into the city and to create the environment to facilitate that.

I believe that our city is consumed with waste and inefficiency. The taxpayers of the city are throwing good money after bad as our council attempts to maintain its tentative grip on controlling all areas of our local community. Its time to do things differently and roll back government to concentrate on providing excellent essential services.

As a Conservative, I am naturally inclined to support lower taxes and I will work towards achieving a CUT in the council tax burden just as other Conservative authorities have been able to achieve. It IS possible to deliver both lower taxes and excellent local services; we have done it elsewhere in the country, and I believe that it is only the natural high tax mentality of existing councillors and officers in this city that prevents us from copying that model. However, I will not allow frontline essential services to suffer at the expense of tax cuts.

I am also a great supporter of the regeneration schemes going on in the city, but I cannot in principle support Compulsory Purchase Order’s, and I will not vote for them. People who have lived in an area all their lives deserve more than summary eviction from their property in the name of some great plan. We are servants of the people, and if our plans do not take them with us, then we have failed. People must be offered a fair market price for their properties.

This is also an opportunity to send a message to central government that we will not be taken for granted any longer over Europe. Unlike the UKIP candidate in my ward, I am actually signed up to Better Off Out. If you agree with me that Britain can flourish outside of the political constraints imposed by the EU, then I would urge you to back me and help to make this the policy of a mainstream party of government.

The programme I have laid out is a radical manifesto for change. It will mean a complete re-think of the way we do things. It is about small government and bigger individuals; lower tax and better services; a new relationship between government and the people. I believe that the Conservative led administration in the town hall has made a good start over the last few months, but we now need to step up a gear and start to implement the changes to the culture of the town hall that has kept the city back for decades.

BLUE IS THE COLOUR – SHAUN SPEAKS TO PITSNPOTS!

In the second of our exclusive articles aimed at getting the party voice back into our city, we have the words and thoughts of Blurton’s very own Conservative Party Activist Shaun Bennett.
Shaun is, like Labour’s Tom Reynolds, a young, driven and enthusiastic party member, who knows his parties policies better than most!
I have followed his posts both on the Sentinel and on pitsnpots for a long time now and his reasoned debate has nearly had me turning blue a few times! I would like to thank Shaun for submitting his blog and wish him well for the future. I think the people of Trentham & Hanford could do a lot worse than voting Shaun in at the expense of “you know who!” at the next elections, they would be assured of getting a real Tory!

“I would like to begin by joining Tom Reynolds in his praise of Tony and the team who have set up the site to get local people involved in local political issues and perhaps in time more national debates too. I’m sure we’ve all thought that the voices of North Staffordshire have been ignored for too long, and I for one am very pleased that an outlet now exists for as many of those voices as possible to be heard. I’m particularly pleased that Tony and the team have gone out of their way to get a range of political persuasions involved without bias – be they Tories like me, Labour, Liberal or BNP.
These are actually quite exciting times for Stoke-on-Trent. The decision we made last Thursday is going to determine how the city is governed for at least another decade, and hopefully far beyond it. As a psephologist – hopefully in touch with the thoughts of people of the city – I never really had any doubt that the YES campaign to abolish the mayor was going to be successful. The demographic and procedural factors alone (such as differential turnout, the wording of the question and the process of casting the vote in a polling station rather than by post) were I think biased towards a YES outcome. The fact that people’s natural reaction to an unpopular administration is to support change and my view that the YES campaign totally demolished all the main arguments for the mayoral system,and then a positive result seemed largely secured.
But then with the Sentinel’s piece on the BNP being favourite to win the Leadership of the city just a day before polling, I have to admit that I briefly had cause to think again. As it turned out of course, the YES vote won by something of a landslide – albeit on a very low turnout. Whilst I agree with Cllr Reynolds that a low turnout is never desirable, I would gently remind him that Labour imposed a National Assembly upon the people of Wales on a turnout not far greater than we had last Thursday, and by a far, far closer margin. I can’t be sure, but I’m convinced that the votes of Stoke South in particular were crucial and I would be interested to see how the votes broke down by constituency and by ward.
So should we decry having lost our right to directly elect the person who leads the council? Well I think not actually. We will GET our chance to decide who leads the council when the time comes to elect our councillors, in exactly the same way as the leadership of almost every other local authority in the country is decided. If we don’t like what the leadership is doing we can vote to change it, and unlike under the mayoral system our votes in local elections will now be decisive and will have meaning once more. Perhaps now that the result of local elections will actually matter to the governance of the city, local parties will once more take an interest in winning them, as I’m sure we’ve all noticed a significant slide in the visibility of the various campaigns over the last 6 years.
My hope is that we can now make savings on the mayor’s salary, give power back to councillors – which after all is what they should be elected to do – reintroduce some degree of order and democratic accountability in our political system and perhaps get clearer and – though let’s not get too hopeful – better governance as a result. If we can see Mayor Meredith and his colleagues on the dole queue at the same time, well that’s all for the better! The city never really wanted to adopt a mayoral system in the first place; certainly those that are most interested in local politics didn’t want it. We started off by choosing the wrong type of mayoral system (since abolished by the government) and then not really giving it much of a chance. With a return to a system that we really wanted to adopt in the first place, perhaps things will change for the better – and I hope that we resist getting bogged down in a pointless debate about changing the system back again in the years to come.
I do however have two real concerns about the immediate future: First, I am concerned about this “Transition Board” that seems to have appeared out of nowhere. I don’t remember any discussion of a transition board during the referendum campaign? I don’t know how this panel of the great and the good have been put onto the board? They certainly haven’t been elected. I don’t know what powers or authority this board will have or even what the point is of them being there; surely we already know the way forward for the city in terms of the political system? On the other hand, if it is going to be available to ‘hold the hands’ of our local political leaders and to give them cause to think twice before doing anything stupid, then it can only be a good thing. The fact that it only seems to be in place for the next 6 months or so should probably ease our concerns about its being, since it is after all only temporary.
My second concern is however much more serious. It seems that now that we have voted YES to getting rid of the elected mayor’s office, the sitting councillors will now start to discuss who is going to lead the city ahead of a big decision next May. In the short term at least, the people DON’T get any say over who that person is going to be. The democratic principle of the Leader and Cabinet system is that the electorate can still indirectly choose the leadership of the council by voting for councillors – the implication being that the party or group with most support delivered by the electorate as seats on the council will take the leadership. Unfortunately, the councillors who are there at present were elected under the old mayoral system. They were NOT elected to form an administration or to take the leadership of the authority. And yet it is this group of people who will now choose the Leader without any reference to the electorate.
In my view, there should be an all out council election next May or June so that people will be able to vote knowing that they are voting for a party or group to lead the council as well as an individual local councillor to represent them. At present we have expressed our preference for a local representative but not for who we want to lead the council. And if rumours that the next council election will not be held until ward boundaries change in 2011 are true, we could find ourselves in a situation in which whoever is chosen to lead the authority could do so without any test of public opinion for the next two and a half years!
An all out council election would not be extraordinary, given the circumstances. We have them whenever ward boundaries change – and so we will almost certainly be having one in 2011 anyway. In 1996 when the City Council became a Unitary Authority, a full council election was held then even though all that was changing was the extent of the powers of the authority. Are we really expected to accept that there will be no full election at a time when it is not just the powers of the authority that is changing but the entire executive leadership of the city? These councillors were not elected to lead us, they were elected to hold to account the person that led us; how can they get away with assuming power in their own right without an election? We may well find that the councillors who people thought suitable to represent them as a scrutineer will be different to those that they want to represent them now that the choice for a potential government. I can certainly name a couple of wards where a change of councillor will now be wanted by local people – and some of those changes may well affect the names in the frame to become Leader of the authority!
Nationally, the official Conservative position seems to be to support elected mayors. Of course, they would never attempt to enforce that opinion onto local parties that thought differently and that is what happened in the case of the local party in Stoke. Like all the main parties, except for the BNP, we were totally divided between the YES and NO options. Perhaps also like the other main parties – certainly Labour – the division goes much deeper than over the mayoralty alone. Issues of group leadership, support for the cross-party coalition and certain controversial policy decisions have all been tearing the main parties apart for a number of years now. Personally, I believe that the root cause of many of those problems have come from the demands of the political system under the elected mayor.
The YES vote last Thursday gives me great cause for hope and optimism for the future. The quality of our elected representatives may not improve dramatically under any system, and that will be in the hands of the people. To a large extent as voters we are the makers of our own fortunes,and we cannot really complain when we continue to elect the same people that we constantly condemn as being poor. In the short term we may well see a great era of instability as the smaller parties benefit from the ‘cross party coalition’ of Mayor Meredith. But in the long term I now can see the beginnings of reunification for both the Conservative and Labour parties. The City may never again return to the two party politics or even one and a half party politics that we have enjoyed for the past 30 years. In many ways that may even be a good thing, but I can at least see the Conservative and Labour parties starting to become competitive again if they really want to be and if they are prepared to cut off the dead wood and get back in touch with real voters. Only time will tell how this story unfolds…”

Shaun Bennett BA (Hons), MA Former Deputy Chairman, Stoke-on-Trent Conservatives.