Chris Whitehouse, Chairman of The Whitehouse Consultancy, and Secretary of the Conservative Group on the Isle of Wight Council
On 8th April Wendy Cook was sentenced in Southampton Magistrates Court to a driving ban of four years and ten months. Such a long period of suspension reflects the fact that whilst awaiting trial for her first offence committed on 9th February Ms Cook was caught drink driving again on 23rd March.
This matters not only because Ms Cook is a barrister and should know better than to flout the law so brazenly, but also because last week it was announced that she will be representing the “Association of Island Independents” as their Parliamentary candidate for the Isle of Wight constituency in the May 2015 General Election, standing against the sitting, extremely popular Island MP, Andrew Turner.
The announcement of this selection has caused uproar on the Island, particularly within the group of independent councillors, who have controlled the Isle of Wight Council for 11 months, and who have split immediately into factions. One camp can see nothing wrong with the selection, the other sees immediately that they have made a fundamental error and that no-one can credibly be put forward as a candidate for making laws and ensuring that they are enforced whilst only just starting an almost five year sentence for breaking laws in a most flagrant manner.
Social media fora have come alive with condemnation of those who took this decision and are demanding the candidate be withdrawn. The credibility of the “independents” lies in tatters and those who formerly supported them are now publicly asking the more fundamental question of how “independents” can have an association which selects candidates in the first place.
The truth, of course, is that Ms Cook is a former Liberal Democrat as are so many other “independents” who have tried to change their spots to avoid the unpopularity that clings to the Lib Dem brand.
Previously united by the unpopularity of the former Conservative Leader of the Council, the love-affair between the Island residents and Island “independents” is turning horribly sour even before they have formed an administration for a year; and I predict that Ms Cook will not survive more than a few days – which would be a shame in one way, because the more dodgy opposition candidates there are on the Island, the bigger will be Andrew’s majority as they split the opposition between them.
Politics on a small Island is visceral, but fun. I’ll keep you posted as we move colourfully towards May 2015.