The Conservative leader of the 3 strong Tory group on South Tyneside Council is facing a secret plot to oust him.
Senior Conservative Party figures including a close associate of Mr Potts and at least one fellow councillor are believed to be behind the plot to rid the local party of the sleazy image that has enveloped the party since Councillor Potts took the reins.
Those involved say a series of misjudgements like his constant failure to oppose the ruling Labour Group, his refusal to support a motion of no confidence in the then Labour Leader of the Council, Paul Waggott, his refusal to join a unified opposition move to stop the former leader being awarded Freedom of the Borough (without Tory support it would have failed), recent revelations about his private life, his drink problem, questions about his background and his removal as the Conservative candidate to challenge Alistair Darling reflects a more profound problem – that Mr Potts has no vision for the future of the Tories in South Tyneside, cannot be trusted and lacks the political judgement required of it’s leader.
They say he must step down before the next round of Annual General Meetings or face the prospect of being humiliated by a vote of no confidence and subsequentlybeing removed as leader of the Tory group.
They hope their decision to go public will help kick-start a debate within the Conservative rank and file and will mark the beginning of the end of Mr Pott’s leadership.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, one of Mr Pott’s own colleagues told us, “David has never been a policy-maker, and that is part of the problem. What we don’t have in Conservative Party in South Tyneside is the kind of creative tension that exists between the Independents and other opposition groups.
“David fails to grasp the concept that locally Labour are on the verge of losing power and that the Conservatives should be playing a key role in this. Instead he jumps in to bed with Labour at every available opportunity.
“David showed no leadership at all and constantly fluffed it. The problem for the Conservative Party in South Tyneside is that it hasn’t been able to properly establish itself, even in the 80’s when nationally no other party was in within firing range. It has never been able to renew and redefine itself. To do that you need a proper leader, and David has shown that he hasn’t got what it takes. He should be leading from the front, but that’s not what’s happening at all.
“The expected increase in the Conservative vote in May’s local elections failed to materialise and many party activists found this disturbing, yet David said it didn’t matter. That was very irresponsible.
“David projects no sense of dynamism. Party membership is declining as is the gene pool of potential candidates”
Anger over the support the Freedom of the Borough blunder has sparked those increasingly disillusioned into action. A senior party official said, “David’s monumental misjudgement over the Freedom of the Borough issue was worse than it seemed at the time. It proved that the David’s was not fit to lead the Conservative Group. Conservative voters rightly expect their represenatitves to oppose, challenge and scrutinise Labour.
“David’s increasingly poor political judgement has left many people questioninghis ability to lead the group.
“There is no way that David should lead the Conservative Group into the next local elections and he must come to accept that. Otherwise dissatisfaction will boil over.”