Conservative civil war in Portsmouth

Peter Henley
Political editor, South of England
@BBCPeterHon Twitter


Success breeds success, they say. And failure often leads to meltdown.

After the Conservative MP Flick Drummond lost Portsmouth South to Labour at the last election all hell broke loose on the blue side.

There were recriminations and anger surrounding a new crop of officers who had taken control of the local Association. A councillor was de-selected, two more went Independent. There were accusation flying on all sides of bullying and harrassment, even racism and financial mismanagement.

Complaints have been made to the Electoral Commission, Hampshire Police and of course Conservative Party HQ.

Image caption,
Leaked recordings in the post

Secret recordings have been made of phone conversations, I was sent one in the post this week, with a letter signed only by "A concerned Conservative Party Member".

Well now things seem to have firmly come to a head. At a Special General Meeting last night more than 100 members voted and by a nearly two thirds majority passed a motion of no-confidence in the Association Chairman, his two deputies and the Treasurer.

The Conservative Group Leader on the City Council Donna Jones welcomed the result, saying "For over 2 years Portsmouth South has been controlled by a small group of people who have not had the best interests of the party at heart."

"Their intentions have been brought into question from members particularly around the Conservative values that should be promoted and the lack of enhancement of the reputation to our local party."

The Chairman voted out, Leo Ciccarone hit back, saying "I've been assailed and bullied but I've tried to do the best that I can."

He is promising to hand back the keys to the office, but in the meantime there is still the question of who will lead the attempt to regain the seat from Labour.

I understand the former MP Flick Drummond has not yet decided if she will put herself forward again, or let a new candidate make a fresh start.