HISTORY has shown that people will not vote for political parties which are bitterly divided.

No one can deny that the Conservative party is badly split, both nationally and locally, in Taunton Deane and West Somerset.

Nationally, Theresa May would have won her long-delayed vote on her EU deal if only her own party and its Unionist allies had united behind her.

Whichever way she turns now, more cabinet resignations and party splits are inevitable.

Locally, we see leading Conservative Councillor Roger Habgood writing “Tauntonians.... are crying out for change and new direction. Many believe the town is slipping slowly but surely in a downward spiral”, while Cllr Alison Gunner has told the County Gazette “I'd like to see the Conservatives lose the next local elections” and others resign from the Conservative group.

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Meanwhile, the costly merger between Taunton Deane and the failed and near-bankrupt West Somerset Council, both Conservative-run, will begin its life with the vehement opposition of the Conservative MP for West Somerset, Ian Lidell-Grainger.

The real choice for voters in May will not be between squabbling Conservative factions, whose motto for the council tax payer appears to be, 'Pay More Get Less'.

It will between a tired Tory Administration and a Liberal Democrat opposition with clear ideas on regenerating Taunton Deane (e.g. using Firepool as a base for an Innovation Centre attracting high paid jobs in new Green Energy, together with an entertainment and conference centre) and ensuring that the massive housing developments are not dictated by developer greed but address the need for affordable and rented housing and come with the right infrastructure, roads, flood defence, public transport etc.