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Tory election choices spark civil war claims

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By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale
Tory election choices spark civil war claims

CLAIMS of civil war within the region's Tory party have resurfaced — with rows over candidate selections ahead of May's council elections.

One serving Conservative councillor has been deselected, while two others who split away to serve in an independent Tory group have failed in their bid to win party candidacy.
Annandale North’s Peter Diggle this week said: “I did stand for selection as a Conservative candidate for the May elections but was unsuccessful.
“That’s life – you win some you lose some.”
Mr Diggle from Lochmaben was one of seven Tories who split from the main grouping in 2013, leading to the collapse of a Conservative administration which was succeeded by Labour.
Appearing to indicate he will not look to continue beyond May as an independent, Mr Diggle said: “I have enjoyed representing the people of Annandale North over the past term and wish my successors well.”
Conservative party members within the council wards meet to select who will stand for the party.
Another Tory rebel, Nith Ward councillor Jack Groom, has seen his bid to regain party endorsement rejected at a meeting attended by just two local party members.
But not all Tory rebels have been rejected.
Graham Bell and Karen and Ian Carruthers have been welcomed back into the fold, while Roberta Tuckfield chose not to stand for selection.
But in Annandale East and Eskdale, serving Conservative councillor Denis Male has been de-selected.
In a vote involving just eight local members, the veteran councillor lost out to community councillor Ronnie Tait and rebel Conservative Karen Carruthers.
The Labour Group have claimed recent candidate selections show ructions are continuing within the local party.
Chairman Councillor Ted Thompson said: “It’s up to the Conservative Party who they choose as candidates, but it’s clear that the civil war at the heart of the local Tories continues.
“It’s a civil war that led to utter chaos and collapse in the council when they were in power and it’s clear from the backstabbing that’s taken place during the selection process they haven’t changed.”
Deselected Tory councillor Denis Male notes any successful rebel Conservatives face having to work with those from whom they split.
Asked if he can imagine a similar split happening again, Councillor Male said: “I think that is more than possible what will happen, because of some of the different personalities and different priorities.
“I can see it happening again quite easily.”
The national Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party say they have a policy not to comment on internal matters.

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