Tory predicts yellow revolution

Conservative council hopeful Martine Martin predicts that Hull is set for a yellow (Lib Dem) revolut

'This is a one of those years where it is a bad year to be Labour and it is a good year to be anything else but Labour.'

Or so says Councillor John Fareham, one of the only two Conservative Councillors in Hull City Council. Unsurprisingly, I happen to agree with him. But it seems I am not alone.

To give a little background information on the area, Hull is traditionally a Labour stronghold (it is, after all, the home of John Prescott and Alan Johnson, amongst others). Coincidently, it was also dubbed the "worst council in England" by the CPS both in 2004 and 2005, during the twilight years of Labour's council-level rule there. But let's not dwell.

Last year the council was given over to Liberal Democrat control. They had to form a minority administration and, according to Labour Councillor Gary Wareing, came close to holding a vote of no confidence in themselves last October. Yes, you read that right.

It's a curious state of affairs in Hull. The way things stand, there are 59 council seats, with the Liberal Democrats holding 24 and Labour holding 25.

There are also 2 Conservatives and the rest are made up by independents of varying hue. With the Liberal Democrats set to make a number of gains, possibly even to the point of taking overall control, one might think that life is rosy for the yellow team these days.

Not so. Hull City Council does seem to have a problem with keeping its councillors in their own corners, with Liberal Democrats crossing the floor all over the place. 13 have left the group since 2002, including 2 who have made a break for it since the formation of their minority administration.

They have reputedly overspent to the tune of 5 million already. Council tax is well above inflation. All is not well.

Yet everyone in a position to know seems to be in agreement; they could pledge to make Smurf hats a legal requirement in Hull and they would still be set for an excellent year. While Labour are concentrating on ways to soften the blow caused by national government ineptitude and the Conservatives are fighting to take control of East Riding instead, Hull is wide open for a "yellow revolution", as one enthusiastic Liberal Democrat I know put it.

I would have to agree, so long as they can keep their Councillors on their side of the ring in the future.

Martine Martin, 21, is studying politics at Hull and a well known Tory blogger. She is active in Conservative Future and standing for Hull council
Grant Shapps on the campaign trail. Photo: Getty
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Grant Shapps resigns over Tory youth wing bullying scandal

The minister, formerly party chairman, has resigned over allegations of bullying and blackmail made against a Tory activist. 

Grant Shapps, who was a key figure in the Tory general election campaign, has resigned following allegations about a bullying scandal among Conservative activists.

Shapps was formerly party chairman, but was demoted to international development minister after May. His formal statement is expected shortly.

The resignation follows lurid claims about bullying and blackmail among Tory activists. One, Mark Clarke, has been accused of putting pressure on a fellow activist who complained about his behaviour to withdraw the allegation. The complainant, Elliot Johnson, later killed himself.

The junior Treasury minister Robert Halfon also revealed that he had an affair with a young activist after being warned that Clarke planned to blackmail him over the relationship. Former Tory chair Sayeedi Warsi says that she was targeted by Clarke on Twitter, where he tried to portray her as an anti-semite. 

Shapps appointed Mark Clarke to run RoadTrip 2015, where young Tory activists toured key marginals on a bus before the general election. 

Today, the Guardian published an emotional interview with the parents of 21-year-old Elliot Johnson, the activist who killed himself, in which they called for Shapps to consider his position. Ray Johnson also spoke to BBC's Newsnight:


The Johnson family claimed that Shapps and co-chair Andrew Feldman had failed to act on complaints made against Clarke. Feldman says he did not hear of the bullying claims until August. 

Asked about the case at a conference in Malta, David Cameron pointedly refused to offer Shapps his full backing, saying a statement would be released. “I think it is important that on the tragic case that took place that the coroner’s inquiry is allowed to proceed properly," he added. “I feel deeply for his parents, It is an appalling loss to suffer and that is why it is so important there is a proper coroner’s inquiry. In terms of what the Conservative party should do, there should be and there is a proper inquiry that asks all the questions as people come forward. That will take place. It is a tragic loss of a talented young life and it is not something any parent should go through and I feel for them deeply.” 

Mark Clarke denies any wrongdoing.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.