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PM is blamed for Tories' blues
PRIME Minister David Cameron has been sent a message by his struggling constituents that he does not understand their lives, it was claimed last night.
The Conservative Party lost three seats in West Oxfordshire District Council and their overall vote across every ward except one was down on 2008.
They now control 41 of the council’s 49 seats, with Labour up from one seat to four and the Liberal Democrats remaining on four.
Mr Cameron said the result had been disappointing.
Labour councillor Duncan Enright, who won a seat from the Tories in Witney East, said: “I think people do not believe David Cameron understands what their real lives are like and they want to let him know that is the case.
“They want him to have a sharp reminder that it is really tough for people out there.”
He said voters had voiced their anger about the recent Budget, particularly the so-called ‘granny tax’.
Mr Hudspeth, who was last week congratulated by Mr Cameron for winning the county council leadership race, also said national policies had hit his polling.
He said: “Obviously some people are reflecting on national issues.
“In West Oxfordshire we have got a very good record – low council tax, good recycling rates, open about planning – but perhaps people are more concerned about the bigger picture rather than local issues.”
He would not say which national policies had affected the vote and whether he was now concerned about losing his county council seat in next year’s elections.
He said: “I will put forward a good case and the electorate will make their decision.”
Mr Cameron yesterday said he was “sorry” for all the “hard-working Conservative councillors who lost their seats, obviously against a difficult national backdrop”.
He told the Oxford Mail: “Of course it is always disappointing to lose any council seats, particularly for those councillors who have served their areas so well.
“But I am pleased that we still have a large Conservative majority on the council, which will mean that we continue to keep council tax down whilst improving services in difficult times.”
He did not comment on the accusation that his constituents had used their vote to protest against his policies.
The district council wards were last up in 2008 – when the Tories won 40 of the 49 seats.
The Conservative vote this year was down in all but one ward.
Witney was particularly hit, with Witney Central going from 62.7 per cent in favour of the Tories in 2008 to 47.4 per cent this year and Witney East from 63.6 per cent to 45.8 per cent. Labour candidates gained both seats and also took Chipping Norton.
The Lib Dems also lost Eynsham and Cassington and retained Charlbury and Finstock.
Conservative group and council leader Barry Norton said: “It does sounds as though some Conservative stayed at home.
“All parties in Government face difficulties because there are matters that the electorate may not be totally happy with.”
But he said the Tories had lost primarily because the Lib Dems and Labour had agreed not to stand against each other in some wards, something both parties denied.