Thursday, 17 December 2015
Tory Bullying - Caught In The Vice
While the bullying scandal engulfing the Tory Party is being discussed, and all too often spun, in the mainstream media, an article has been published at Vice Media, authored by Sirin Kale, which backs up an assertion previously made at this blog, while calling into question claims made by some of those who have been caught up in the affair.
Only last Sunday, Zelo Street told that “A number of Tory MPs face serious allegations regarding the manner of their interaction with young party activists at Young Britons’ Foundation and/or Conservative Future events”. The Vice article quotes one activist who “has campaigned for the Conservatives since he was 11. ‘After a few Road Trips I got the impression that it was all a bit of an excuse for people to go back to the hotel afterwards and inebriate yourself until you wake up in someone's bed the next morning’”. There was more.
Another activist “agrees there was a ‘huge culture of casual sex’, pointing out that the problem wasn't ‘the casual sex per se, but the half joking, half serious way that people were being told to keep their eyes on certain MPs’” [my emphasis]. Those not wanting to believe that Mark Clarke was not acting alone, or that he may not have been the worst alleged offender, should consider that assertion and think again.
The founder of the Young Britons’ Foundation, Donal Blaney, told LBC host Iain Dale that one reason he was postponing the YBF’s conference this year was because of the duty of care that he owed to those attending. Indeed, the YBF website states “YBF … takes its duty of care to YBFXII attendees very seriously and is simply not prepared to risk young activists being targeted and harassed at this year’s conference”.
So how Blaney squares that claim with this recollection of one activist may be interesting. The activist “attended the annual [YBF] conference last December … ‘We were staying there, and one person who at the time was a Cabinet Minister got up on stage and made a joke about leaving before everyone started hooking up. There was an atmosphere of everyone sleeping with each other – a really seedy vibe. It made me feel uncomfortable’”.
One other facet of the bullying culture is also explored in the Vice article. One activist “is head of a university small-c ‘conservative’ society that is not officially affiliated to the party, and when he says he won't be able to bring 50 supporters to an event, Clarke threatens legal action over use of the word ‘conservative’ in the society's name … Threats of action seem to have been part of Clarke's armoury”. Do go on.
Another activist “told me: ‘I don't want to get sued for defamation. Because that's always what Clarke used to say about people. There was this atmosphere of, “if you complain, you will get sued”’”. Zelo Street regulars will also have read about the use of legal threats by Donal Blaney, and those issued on behalf of his clients. As Private Eye magazine might have asked, I wonder if the two are in any way related? I think we should be told.
One of the activists interviewed concluded “Tory activists are nice people, and then this group come along, and ruin everything for us ... It makes me angry. They've put a massive shit-stain on our party's name, and I think that's really sad”. Who can he be referring to? As the man said, “You might wish to ask that … I couldn’t possibly comment”.