The Tories might think last week’s conference went swimmingly: the gullible pundits swallowed Young Dave’s PR flannel without question, anyone demonstrating outside the venue was successfully linked personally to Jeremy Corbyn, and the looming spectre of organised bullying was kept out of view. But I have to tell the inmates of CCHQ that someone is still on their case, and there is bad news coming.
In happier times: Elliott Johnson at left, with Mark Clarke behind
What is coming can be put directly: I can reveal that tomorrow’s Mail On Sunday is intending to not only revisit the Elliott Johnson story, but also widen the scope to include several of those who have made complaints about Road Trip 2015 top man Mark Clarke, which allege not only verbal abuse and bullying, but also inappropriate behaviour towards young women. The MoS has statements. They will quote directly from them.
Mark Clarke, India Brummitt, Grant Shapps ... and Emma Pidding
Indeed, my sources have indicated that this closeness is one reason that Clarke has thus far avoided expulsion from the party. It gets worse: it has been put to me, on behalf of one of Clarke’s victims, that they believe Emma Pidding informed Clarke not just of the nature of each and every complaint against him, but also the identities of those who made them. That would explain the reluctance of others to come forward.
Emma Pidding, family friend
There’s more: “This woman has been given a peerage by the party as well as being Chairman of Road Trip. She has still not apologised to the victims and has yet to condemn Mark Clarke and Andre Walker. She was acting like nothing had happened at conference in Manchester but until she withdraws her support for Clarke and Walker she should be suspended too”. The latter name is that of André Walker.
[UPDATE 11 October 1525 hours: the Mail On Sunday has indeed revisited the story, and you can read the result HERE.
Just why the paper put their lame smear of Tom Watson, rather than the better sourced story on the Tories' bullying problem, on today's front page is a mystery.
Zelo Street will revisit this story soon. Meanwhile, those reading the MoS story are warned that it does not make easy reading]