Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting WO to 80360, or email us
Comment: Watford or Westminster? Make up your mind, Dorothy
One question has dominated politics in Watford for the last couple of years: What will Dorothy do next?
Speculation about the elected mayor’s future following the end of her third term next year has been fevered since she announced in 2010 she was not planning to stand a fourth time.
When the mayor pivoted away from that stance in 2011, and said she was undecided on running for mayor again in 2014, trying to second guess her intentions became the favoured parlour game among politicos.
Last week, the mayor looked to have definitively answered those questions when it was announced she had been nominated by the Liberal Democrats to run for mayor again next year.
However when asked if this ruled out her standing at the General Election in 2015, Mayor Thornhill equivocated and left the door ajar for the possibility of putting herself forward for MP the year after the mayoral election.
The reason interest in her future has been so intense is that the mayor’s choices will not just influence who controls Watford Town Hall. They could also have a decisive impact on the Parliamentary race the year after next.
The mayor has long been linked with possibly running to become Watford’s MP. The Liberal Democrats came tantalisingly close to snatching the seat for the first time in 2010, when they lost to Conservative Richard Harrington by just 1,425 votes.
Had Mayor Thornhill been the candidate then, it’s not hard to imagine that her local profile could have pushed the Liberal Democrats that little bit further to make it first over the finish line.
But she did not stand.
And now the Liberal Democrats’ chance to disrupt seven-decades of Watford ping-ponging between Labour and the Conservatives looks to be on ice.
As the junior partner in a Conservative dominated Coalition Government, it is hard to see the party doing better in 2015 than in 2005 and 2010, when it benefited from the fallout of Iraq and then Cleggmania.
If anything, the next election will force a rearguard action to defend those seats the Lib Dems hold already rather than make any audacious bid for new conquests.
Yet both the Conservative and Labour strategies for victory in Watford still hinge on how the Liberal Democrats fare in 2015.
Labour is banking on a resurgence bolstered by Lib Dem defections to oust the Conservative MP.
Meanwhile, Mr Harrington is hoping the Liberal Democrats can put up a strong showing to stave off a Labour comeback.
If Dorothy Thornhill were to step into the ring in 2015, she would not be doing so to act as an electoral makeweight. She would clearly feel her record of more than a decade as mayor, combined with the Liberal Democrats strong local organisation, could help her defy political gravity and propel her into Westminster.
Even this would be a tall order by itself. But now she has declared she’s running for mayor again, the scenario seems implausible.
If she wins next year, which one presumes she intends to do as she is fighting the race, then in 2015 the newly-re-elected mayor would have to ask voters in Watford to effectively ends her term one year into the four she campaigned for.
This about-face would surely lower her stock with an electorate who assumed they were voting for a mayor who wanted the job.
Mayor Thornhill needs to make up her mind about which job she wants or she risks damaging her chances of securing either.
Comments are closed on this article.