Head of Tory Lib Dem unit loses seat … to a Liberal Democrat

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The head of a Conservative HQ unit devoted to defeating the Liberal Democrats has lost his battle for a seat on Somerset Council – to a Liberal Democrat.

Hayward Burt has given advice to Tory grassroots organisations on how to see off the “yellow peril” in the Conservative heartland areas known as the Blue Wall which are under assault from Sir Ed Davey’s party.

He delivered a “masterclass” to the Conservative Women’s Organisation in November on the subject: “Fighting the Lib Dems – Policies that win”.

And he was on a regional party panel for which invitations read: “The Liberal Democrats are slowly working their way across the home counties and with May elections fast approaching, do you know the best way to fight off the yellow peril? Join us as we explore the options and listen to expert advice.”

But in Thursday’s local elections for the new Somerset unitary authority, he came in third in Blackmoor Vale behind two Lib Dems, who took both of the ward’s seats.

Mr Burt represents Blackmoor Vale, alongside fellow-Tory William Wallace, on South Somerset District Council – one of five councils being swallowed up into the new unitary authority from April next year.

But both Burt and Wallace failed in their bid to join the new council, taking 1,443 and 1,328 votes respectively against Lib Dems Sarah Dyke on 1,814 and Nicola Clarke on 1,590.

One Lib Dem source said: “In fairness, even the greatest political strategist couldn’t stop the backlash against Boris Johnson across the Blue Wall.

“He is a one-man election-winning unit for the Lib Dems.”

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