Cllr Stephen West, of Tadley Central Ward in Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, has defected from the Conservatives to UKIP. He is to be the UKIP candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. The Conservative candidate is Michael Mates, although he is under pressure to stand down.
Cllr West says:
The Conservative Party has retreated from the centre ground of UK politics as David Cameron has failed to deal with the issues of the Economy and while stating that "We are all in it together" is happy to cut the top rate of tax for the richest people in the country while the rest of us here in Tadley struggle to make ends meet.
What's all that about? Are UKIP favouring restoration of the 50p top rate envy tax? Do UKIP really think that would generate more tax revenue, let alone help economic growth? Are UKIP positioning themselves somewhere to the Left of the Lib Dems who, after all, went along with the cut to 45p?
Also defecting from the Conservatives to UKIP is Cllr Jonathan Bullock of the Queen Eleanor and Buccleuch Ward on Kettering Borough Council. Cllr Bullock is an old friend of mine. About 30 years ago he used to doss on my floor in Pimlico during his visits to London. Speaker Bercow used to do the same although I'm not sure they ever stayed the same night.
I'm sorry to see Cllr Bullock leave the party. He'll be back. Like George Eustice and Priti Patel.
Cllr Bullock has obviously agonised over his decision. Making clear that he stll supports the Ketting Conservative Manifesto – which he wrote.
What is needed is a really clear pledge to hold a referendum on EU membership to get him back into the fold. At least he is unlikely to spend his brief time in UKIP pushing for tax rises.