Alliance ‘dead in the water’ after ‘vile’ social media campaign and walkouts

Alliance 'dead in the water' after 'vile' social media campaign and walkouts
Bob Atwood

Bob Atwood talked to the Times after three key members walked out following bitter in-fighting.

Chairman Dr Robert Chris resigned, Group Leader Becki Bruneau quit to stand as an independent and Cllr Christian Atwood defected to the Tory Group on the Borough Council. He is the son of Bob Atwood.

Bob Atwood had been Conservative Leader of the Council between 2011 and 2012, and formed Tunbridge Wells’ first free school (The Wells Free School) before helping launch the Alliance in 2016.

He said: “I got involved specifically because I was against what was then called the theatre and civic project [Calverley Square], which as a former accountant I thought was too expensive, and I thought the footprint in the park was too big.”

But he says a number of party members were ‘obsessed’ with Calverley Square, next to where they lived, and had little or no interest in any other issues.

He criticised his former colleagues, in particular the ‘vile’ social media attacks, of which he says former leader Cllr Nick Pope [Park ward] had been a ‘guilty party’.

“My policy was always not to attack people who do not agree with you, mainly for the reason it never works, but the attacks on social media have been vile, and Nick is a guilty party in that.

“When I was leading the group I found him [Cllr Pope] to be completely ineffective. He was always giving the excuse that he didn’t have time to do anything.

“I appreciate younger people work longer hours now, but Nick seems to have enough time to be a one man Reuters on Twitter, giving his opinions on everything and anything, but he doesn’t have any time to go and meet people face to face?”

Cllr Pope, who receives around £6,000 a year of taxpayers’ money for being a Councillor, was absent from all three committee meetings he was scheduled to attend between March and September last year, despite sending nearly 4,000 ‘boring and interminable tweets’ in the same space of time.

Mr Atwood said he wanted to ‘set the record straight’ on why he left as Chairman.

“It was my decision and there was no acrimony leading up to it. The reality was I had just had enough of doing absolutely everything on my own,” the 77-year-old explained.

“Even during the May election, I had the devil’s own job of getting any of them to do anything. They just didn’t understand how important knocking on doors and meeting people was. They thought they could all do it online.”

After managing to motivate the group to go canvassing, which delivered the party six Council seats from seven candidates, the group soon went back to their old ways.

“As soon as I stepped down they gave all that up and went back to social media and the internet.

“Last year we had around 200 members, but none of these has been contacted or asked to renew their membership.”

He said he had warned the party that it was ‘dead in the water’ last November, telling them ‘relations with the press were at an all-time low – a situation entirely of the party’s own making’ following a sustained campaign to attack and intimidate opponents and critics online.

 “I don’t think they have a future now,” said Mr Atwood. “I don’t see how you can exist as an Alliance party member if there is not a real party behind you.”

Share this article

Recommended articles


Please enter a search term below.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter