Back in the 1998, William ‘Ague must have thought he’d sorted the fractious behaviour of the Tory Party’s youth wing for good, after three disparate groups were brought together under the single banner of Conservative Future (CF). But it seems that CF may be about to cause the Conservative Party proper a whole lot more grief – less than a year before the next General Election.
CF is at present chaired by Oliver Cooper, who was elected in March last year. Elections are, it seems, held every year, but now comes word that there are to be elections next month – and, moreover, that Cooper has been more or less instructed not to stand. That means he will have been effectively sacked from his post. His downfall can be traced back to the Newark by-election.
The Murdoch Times ran a piece titled “Sex and vindaloo lures young Tory army to Newark”. In preparing the article, Cooper was interviewed about CF, and the RoadTrip2015 campaign. The comments about sex were, it seems, judged to be the latest – and most serious – in a line of gaffes emanating from Cooper. He was apparently given the hard word at a recent drinks reception.
As the Blue Guerrilla blog has noted, a “senior Road Trip / party activist figure” appears to be personally involved. Well, RoadTrip2015 was founded by Mark Clarke, who was a Tory PPC in Tooting at the last General Election before being directly removed from the candidates’ list. My information is that Clarke is heavily involved in the removal of Cooper and precipitation of fresh CF elections.
Now, here on Zelo Street we are aware that Mark Clarke is a sensitive flower. He was not at all happy when Sunny Hundal called him out over the dodgy nature of his Twitter following, and I doubt he was best pleased when I passed adverse comment on his presence at the now-moribund Trade Union Reform Campaign (TURC), which seeks not to reform Trades Unions, but do them serious damage.
But the question stands: is Mark Clarke behind the move to oust Oliver Cooper, who, it now seems, has accepted his fate? What democratic mandate does Clarke, or whoever else may be involved, possess that legitimises this behaviour? Yes, this is on the face of it a purely internal CF squabble, but just imagine what those out on the right would be doing if it had been a body associated with the Labour Party.
Moreover, what is the role of the Young Britons’ Foundation (YBF) and its head man Donal Blaney in all of this? Clarke was Development Director of the YBF – that self-styled “Conservative Madrasa” – so, once again, the question stands. What is the role of Grant “Spiv” Shapps? Is Tory Party HQ aware of what is going on? If so, what has been the reaction? Will we see a straight denial of any tendency to entryism?
The impression is given that some on the right want to keep this quiet. No chance.