A defeated Conservative by-election candidate has blasted his own party for “a lack of support” after he was suspended just two days before polling day over an alleged “inappropriate” Facebook post.
Ian Mitchell was beaten into second place as his Lib Dem rival Dave Busby surged to victory in the Waverley Borough Council by-election in Chiddingfold and Dunsfold on Thursday night.
The result marked a stunning victory for the Lib Dems, in a seat which had never returned a non-Tory candidate since it was founded in 2003 and in 2007 saw the Tories take an 84 per cent share of the vote.
Mr Mitchell remained on ballot papers as the Conservative Party candidate as electors in Chiddingfold and Dunsfold headed to the polls on Thursday to elect a new borough councillor following the death of Cllr John Gray.
However, the former UKIP candidate and local school coach driver described himself as an “Independent Conservative” after a post on his personal Facebook page defending golliwog dolls as “not racist” in late October led to his suspension by the Tories on Tuesday.
Speaking to the Herald earlier this week, Mr Mitchell expressed his disappointment at the Conservative Party’s decision – and hit out at the South West Surrey Conservative Association for not supporting his campaign.
He said until last Friday he had not even received Tory campaign posters from the party to erect across Chiddingfold and Dunsfold.
Mr Mitchell was though joined on the campaign trail by Conservative party activists last Thursday, and by the chancellor and South West Surrey MP Jeremy Hunt last Friday.
Mr Mitchell added: “I haven’t had the backing I thought I should have had from the Conservative Party.”
In further comments to the Herald, shared online here, he also denied being a racist, and apologised “to anyone who feels upset about my post”, saying a golliwog doll was one of his favourite toys as a child.