Conservative council candidates have been accused of ‘trying to hide from their own government’s record’, as they attempt to dissociate from the scandal-mired prime minister.
Tories up and down the country have rebranded as “Local Conservatives”, as they try to convince voters not to ‘punish’ them for the scandals currently swamping the government.
As constituents head to the polling stations in what has been described as ‘the moment of truth’ for Boris Johnson, some Tory council hopefuls have labelled themselves as ‘Local Conservatives’ in a bid to separate themselves from Johnson’s Partygate calamities.
Leaflets pushed through letterboxes in the run-up to today’s local elections have read “please don’t punish local Conservatives for the mistakes made in Westminster.” Some local campaign leaflets are reported to have omitted any Conservative branding.
Campaign videos have heralded similar messages. Tim Loughton, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, who called for Boris Johnson to resign, saying his position was “untenable” after the party revelations, appeared alongside the local Tory candidate in a video campaign, urging voters to: “Put aside what may be going on in national politics, this is a local election.”
Ballot papers in certain constituencies, including Birmingham, Oxford, Sutton, Elmbridge and in Dominic Raab’s constituency of Esher and Walton, have even been stylised to say ‘Local Conservative.’
‘It speaks volumes’
Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, described the strategy as “speaking volumes” given the situation in government.
“It speaks volumes that Boris Johnson’s own Conservative candidates are ashamed to be associated with him and trying to pull the wool over voters’ eyes.
“With no answers to the cost-of-living crisis, Tory candidates are trying to hide from their own government’s record. A vote for Labour on Thursday is a vote to send the Conservatives a message they can’t ignore. Britain deserves better,” Rayner added.
Daisy Cooper, deputy leader of the Lib Dems, said: “Conservative candidates up and down the country are desperately trying to distance themselves from Boris Johnson to avoid a backlash at the polls.
“But those standing for the Conservatives are still backing a law-breaking prime minister and a tax-raising chancellor, even if they are too ashamed to admit it.”
Over 5,000 seats are being contested in today’s local elections. A survey predicts the Tories are ‘set to lose 550 seats’ and are on track for heaviest losses in local elections since Tony Blair led Labour in 1996.
Met police expected to make an announcement on Partygate inquiry
The Metropolitan police are expected to make an announcement on the inquiry into the law-breaking parties in Downing Street during lockdown after the local elections. It is anticipated that Tory MPs will await the news of any further fines before deciding whether to move against the prime minister.
However, a number of Tories have reportedly written post-dated letters of no confidence to 10pm May 5 when polling stations close.
Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward