A TORY councillor has defended his decision to nominate a Conservative candidate in his ward, despite speaking out in favour of a popular rival borough councillor, who was prevented from standing for the party in this month’s borough elections.
As previously reported in The Gazette, Councillor Onnalee Cubitt, the outspoken borough ward member for Basing, applied to represent the Conservative Party in the borough elections on May 22.
Cllr Cubitt originally quit the borough Conservative group in May 2012, becoming an Independent, after she spent months on the fringes for her outspoken comments on the Manydown saga.
But Cllr Cubitt’s application to be put on the party’s approved candidate list for the 2014 election was rejected by the Basingstoke Conservative Association. Instead, the Hampshire Conservative Federation, which combines the Basingstoke Conservative Association and the East Hampshire Conservative Association, imposed former borough councillor for Chineham, John Downes as the candidate to represent the party in the Basing ward.
Cllr Sven Godesen, Conservative Basing ward colleague of Cllr Cubitt, defended Cllr Cubitt, who will now stand as an Independent, in a letter to The Gazette, published on April 24, attacking the decision of the “men in grey” suits who rejected her candidacy.
In the letter, Cllr Godesen said: “Cllr Cubitt has earned her spurs in this ward, and as a result of this vindictive decision, our local committee denied the right to select the candidate that they consider best qualified to go forward.”
But despite the show of support from Cllr Godesen, it has now emerged that he actually signed Tory candidate John Downes’ nomination form to stand for the Basing seat on the borough council on May 22.
Every candidate who wishes to stand in borough elections has to provide a nomination form with 10 signatures of support.
Explaining his actions, Cllr Godesen told The Gazette: “It is a complete disaster as far as I am concerned that Cllr Cubitt was not allowed to be a Conservative.
“We haven’t been able to reselect her as our candidate thanks to the action by a small group of people on a committee attached to the association, but we don’t blame John Downes for that because he is a pleasant fellow and is in no way responsible for that action.
“My view of the committee that took the action to not allow Onnalee to stand, some of whom are part of the administration (Conservative party at the borough council), to me was a vindictive act but I don’t believe I am a vindictive person so I wouldn’t want to take it out on John Downes, who has been a borough councillor before. He is well-qualified to represent this ward and I have got no problem with him.”
He added: “Onnalee and I have proved that we are not the people to be forced into things. I am expecting the sky to fall in on my head, and if that happens, so be it.
“The Conservative administration might wish to suspend me, as with Onnalee, for some months from attending group meetings. They can’t sack me – I can only be sacked by the electorate. Onnalee and I have taken the view that our job is to look after the interests of our electorate, and if it offends some people, that’s tough.”