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Inside Politics: Tory/Lib Dem coalition for Gloucester?

By citizenmike  |  Posted: April 17, 2014

By Mike Wilkinson, Public Affairs reporter

insidepolitics

Inside Politics with Michael Wilkinson

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Coalitions, love them or hate them, it seems our politicians might be preparing for one in Gloucester.

It is said that Conservative leader Paul James and Liberal Democrat chief Jeremy Hilton are preparing for a pact if the Tories lose a few seats and cannot form a strong majority.

A council insider tells me: “I’m hearing talk of a post-election deal between Jeremy and Paul.

“It sounds like there’s a possibility of Gloucester having its very own coalition. Jeremy has been dropping pretty strong hints. Now that’s something worth mulling over.”

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But Paul tried to quash the political chatter yesterday by saying: “I am not going to have conversations about what might happen after the election until after the election.”

Defiantly he adds: “We are trying to secure an overall majority and we are only one seat away from that. That is my aim. I hope people like our record in the city.”

It seems Paul may not have met the Lib Dems officially, but it is not too far a stretch of the imagination to realise that it must be on the Conservatives’ minds – especially when you consider the fears that city council voters who would normally vote blue might switch their votes to UKIP since the European elections are on the same day.

As for Jeremy, he is much more open to publicly discussing the idea of a coalition – so long as he can deliver some key Lib Dem policies.

He says: “We believe that the council will go more into no overall control and the Tories may lose a few seats.

“Our objective will be to ensure that as many of our policies are realised by the city council.

“There are a number of scenarios as to how the council could be run post-election. There could be a coalition but it could be between any of the parties. There are options.”

Jeremy adds that if he were to form a coalition he would keep pushing for new city centre public toilets and creating an application to UNESCO for World Heritage status for the Cathedral.

This year’s elections, on May 22, will see 15 seats out of the 36 up for grabs. Every ward in Gloucester has an election too.

The status quo at the moment is 18 for the Conservatives, nine for Labour and nine for the Liberal Democrats. That makes the game a very interesting one indeed.

I can’t wait to see the list of candidates for the Grange ward when the nominations for the Gloucester City Council elections close on April 24.

As reported last week, Conservative councillor Nigel Hanman said he was going to stand as an independent after being replaced by a younger Sinead Kennedy.

But top Tories revealed to me this week that they haven’t spoken to Sinead in at least two months.

Now they are in a conundrum. With Sinead having gone completely off the political radar, do they ask Nigel to take them back?

It has been a very public split and it is hard to see how he can campaign under the Conservative banner without his opposite numbers reminding the electorate every two minutes.

My visit to Gloucester Foodbank yesterday was a real eye-opener.

How can a man go without food for three days before accepting the kindness of foodbank volunteers who heated up a Pot Noodle while he waited for help? This is the state of Gloucester in 2014 – only we don’t want to talk about it.

As foodbank manager Anneliese Sterry told me: “We say anyone in work could be just two or three pay cheques away from the foodbank.”

Thinking about how long we could survive ourselves in this situation does make you sit up and realise.

Whilst doing my shopping the night before my visit, I picked up a few tins to take with me. It was to my embarrassment that, as my baked beans were unloaded from their bags, I discovered the centre is brimming with Heinz. I’m sure they will be put to good use, but next time I will take something a little different, like tinned meat.

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6 comments

  • RoadWombat  |  April 17 2014, 4:37PM

    Nor mine. Remember, people, UKIP doesn't force policy on their local councillors from their head office unlike most (if not all) other parties, so there's no "one size fits all" message that councillors have no choice but to slavishly follow. They're free to make their own decisions based on what their constituents want.

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  • MikeMorrisOBE  |  April 16 2014, 9:46PM

    None of them will be getting my vote.

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  • Mike_Smith_Gl  |  April 16 2014, 7:59PM

    But, Selina, they are just as likely to prop up Labour as they did in the Lib/Lab pact under Callaghan. They will do whatever it takes to gain office.

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  • SELINA30  |  April 16 2014, 7:06PM

    The Tory/Lib Dems should be standing as one anyway. The Lib Dems have been propping up the Tory Government. Its hard to tell the difference.

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  • Mike_Smith_Gl  |  April 16 2014, 6:08PM

    "the fears that city council voters who would normally vote blue might switch their votes to UKIP " When will Jack and other political commentators realise that it is not only "voters who would normally vote blue" who will switch their votes to UKIP. As I said, "We shall see".

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  • Mike_Smith_Gl  |  April 16 2014, 5:53PM

    We shall see!

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