Conservative councillors should not have to pay the price for the Government’s drift

Wandsworth in London is by most reports a model Conservative Council. Band D council tax is £866 in the district compared to £1,660 in neighboring Labour-led Lambeth. It is committed to fiscal correctness, residents say they are largely satisfied with their services, and they have consistently voted for Tory even as the party’s broader fortunes ebbed and flowed in the capital.

However, in today’s local elections, some Conservatives fear this winning streak could be coming to an end. A council that pioneered the application of Thatcher principles to local government may be banned from power over the record of a Tory government that has championed policies more reminiscent of heavily taxed, socialist Lambeth.

During municipal elections, activists often express frustration that their records are being neglected by voters who want to punish a party for its national sins. Today’s vote is unlikely to be any different – as voters are expected to pass judgment not only on local services but also on the Partygate saga and the government’s unfortunate handling of the pressure on the cost of living.

According to some forecasts, the Conservative Party could suffer its biggest losses in the so-called Blue Wall – traditional Tory areas that have moved away from the party in recent years. Some attribute this to changing demographics and very local squabbling over issues like housing, but that’s certainly only part of it.

The government has almost nothing to offer the up-and-coming voters who have formed the basis of Tory support for many years. It was let down with an increase in Social Security contributions aimed at funding an unreformed health service that appears incapable of serving the public. It rarely attempts to apply conservative principles to problems such as unacceptably high energy costs. Instead, it flirts with left-wing ideas like windfall taxes, undermining the Tories’ distinctive proposition to the electorate.

Conservative councilors shouldn’t have to pay the price for government drift. By and large, Tory councils are better run than their Labor equivalents and levy lower rate tax rates. Like Wandsworth, they recognize that good housekeeping, competence and consistency can have an enduring appeal. If only the party at Westminster could say the same. Conservative councillors should not have to pay the price for the Government’s drift

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