In the recent council elections, Sandy Thornton stood and was elected as a Conservative Councillor in Fortissat Ward, with 13.3% of the vote in a four-seat ward.
The win came as a bit of a surprise to him. He is 79 years old and has stood before without winning. Indeed last time he stood, 5 years ago, he received only 2.6% of the vote.
Having won, however, he has declined to take the seat, citing chronic ill health as the reason. “Chronic” means “persisting for a long time or constantly recurring”, as opposed to “acute” which indicates a condition that came on suddenly. So it is not unreasonable to assume that, whatever ails Mr Thornton, he was aware of it when he stood for election.
We might reasonably further assume that Mr Thronon did not expect to be elected and that, in fact, he was a paper candidate.
Now, if these assumptions are true, one might think that this should be a matter between him and his local party, and possibly, given that it has caused a bit of a furore, the Tory party nationally.
But, you have to remember that the locals have been left a councillor short and that means that legally, a by-election must be held. So that’s a bit inconvenient.
It will have to be organised; candidates will have to chap doors and leaflets will have to be sent out. The polling stations will ahve to be manned (schools may have to be given the day off). Then electors will have to go yet again to the polls. (I wonder how many will bother.)
And the local authority will have to find the £50,000 that this will cost.
Mr Thornton has refused to speak to the press except to say that he has a health condition that, quite reasonably, he does not wish to discuss.
When asked to comment on the cost of the by-election, he replied: “Sadly that’s the situation that pertains.”
Now, we wish Mr Thronton well as far as his health is concerned, but his attitude does seem to be: “Nothing to do with me or my party, old chap. Let the magic money tree of North Lanarkshire be shaken”.
Hands up if you think that the Conservative party, or Mr Thornton, or both, should take at least part of the financial responsibility for this unnecessary election.