The Conservatives' bid to retake West Midlands battleground Nuneaton hit a stumbling block today when their local mayor quit the party.
Tom Wilson's decision to abandon the Tories with less than a month to go before the general election means Nuneaton and Bedworth's borough council switches to no overall control.
"I think that the group is disjointed and not giving value to our residents of this town. That's been clear to me being first citizen, I have seen it from afar. I want to give an independent view on things," he told the Nuneaton News newspaper.
"There are too many square pegs in round holes."
Labour's Bill Olner is standing down after 18 years in parliament, leaving Jayne Innes defending a notional majority of just over five per cent in a seat considered vital by the party.
"It just confirms what we already know: Nuneaton Tories are divided right down the middle," Ms Innes told politics.co.uk.
"They can't even work together, let alone work on behalf of the people of Nuneaton."
Andrew Burtenshaw, chairman of Nuneaton Conservatives, sought to downplay the matter, however.
"Tom has always been something of a character, and local members will have fond memories of his time as a Conservative," he said.
"However, this is the sort of debate that interests politicians much more than it interests local people, who know that there is a big choice at the forthcoming election between five more years of Gordon Brown, and a Conservative government led by David Cameron that would deal with the deficit and restore confidence to our economy."
Mr Wilson said that he did not want to jeopardise Conservative candidate Marcus Jones' chances of winning the seat.
"He is a super councillor and I believe that he is the right man for us in Parliament, I will support his campaign," he added.
But Ms Innes responded by highlighting Mr Wilson's comment that "residents deserve better than what they have now".
She added: "We've been telling them that for the whole of the two years they've been in control [of the council]."
Mr Jones was not immediately available for comment.