Off the Record

Po­lit­i­cal Editor Paul Francis

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Batchelors In Ashford -

While a be­lea­guered Theresa May clings on as PM, there are no such prob­lems for the Con­ser­va­tive leader of Kent County Coun­cil, Paul Carter.

He has just been re-elected leader with no dis­sent­ing voices by the Con­ser­va­tive group at County Hall.

After de­liv­er­ing a re­sound­ing elec­tion vic­tory in May in which the Con­ser­va­tives grabbed 67 of the 81 di­vi­sions up for grabs, Mr Carter has what by any mea­sure meets the def­i­ni­tion of “unas­sail­able”.

He is now into his 12th year as leader of the Con­ser­va­tives at County Hall.

The clos­est he got to los­ing po­lit­i­cal con­trol was when UKIP came within a whisker of de­priv­ing the party of out­right con­trol in 2013.

Oh and he de­liv­ered a 15% rise in al­lowances for coun­cil­lors. Which might have been a fac­tor.

Pos­i­tive dis­crim­i­na­tion by way of all-women short­lists for would-be MPs is back on Labour’s agenda in a bid to achieve par­ity be­tween the sexes.

In Kent, how­ever, just one tar­get seat has been iden­ti­fied for an all– women short­list – Dover and Deal.

De­pend­ing on which way you look at it, this could mean that Labour feels that it is the only seat in Kent it has hopes of win­ning.

And it is worth point­ing out that four of the county’s MPs got elected with­out any such favours. And they are all Con­ser­va­tive.

With the Con­ser­va­tives seem­ingly un­able to get away from lead­er­ship con­tor­tions na­tion­ally, if the chance arose would any Kent MPs be in the frame?

Spec­u­la­tion is rife that among the new in­take of Con­ser­va­tive MPs there is a feel­ing that the suc­ces­sor to Mrs May should be one of the new gen­er­a­tion. And one name that has cropped up is that of the Ton­bridge and Malling MP Tom Tu­gend­hat, who is in­creas­ingly well-re­garded by his peers.

And in a re­cent in­ter­view, he can­didly ad­mit­ted he’d like a shot at the job. “I bought a ticket, why wouldn’t I want to win the lottery?”

De­pend­ing on where you look, the book­mak­ers are of­fer­ing 33-1 on him be­ing the next to take the reins.

And that price puts him ahead of Michael Fal­lon, the Sevenoaks MP – but be­hind Ash­ford MP Damian Green.

But as they all in­vari­ably will say: “There is no va­cancy.” Yet.

FOLLOW Paul on Twit­ter @PaulOnPol­i­tics for all Kent’s po­lit­i­cal news and gossip

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