It has been an odd quirk of North Norfolk Tories that they have, for many years, attempted to deceive the electorate each and every local election by failing to put candidates up against certain "independents", who in return join the Conservative group immediately after the election and take the Tory whip. Of course, it does not just happen in North Norfolk. Here in Broadland too the Tories do similar things too. But in North Norfolk it seems that the Tories have now lost control of their group discipline so much that one of their members, Mike Baker, who I could possibly describe in many ways, but the nicest thing I could say would be that he is a colourful character, a man elected at various times as a Conservative, an independent, and who sits at present as part of the Tory group whilst supposedly remaining an independent (work that out ?), is standing in the County Elections as a UKIP candidate.
So what are the Tories doing about this in North Norfolk ?
There is a good chance that with him standing as a UKIP candidate in a Tory held division, the same division in which he is a District Councillor for about 50% of the electorate, he could possibly lose the Tories the seat. What is more interesting is that the Tory County Councillor for this division is also a member of the Tory District Council group and sits alongside Cllr Mike Baker.
Now I have been told by people inside the Tories in North Norfolk that it does cause some disquiet that they accept people not elected as Tories in to their council group, and even when the standards board found Cllr Mike Baker guilty of breaking rules and suspended him for several months the Tory group still welcomed him back with open arms. This is in sharp contrast to the line the Lib Dem group took when they threw out from their group a councillor elected as a Lib Dem who was also found guilty by the standards board.
It certainly seems very odd and does not point to North Norfolk Tories being very united. From a Lib Dem point of view though, it is all very amusing.
So is Cllr Baker now UKIP and not an independent ? Can he remain in the Tory group whilst standing against them ? Have the Tories got the backbone to do anything ? If they don't do anything it appears that the Tories might be officially endorsing UKIP in North Norfolk.