James Cleverly, now Tory MP for Braintree, a constituency which, as the General Elections of 1997 and 2001 showed, is not as safe a seat as may be imagined, is one of the new breed of Conservatives. He is held up as an example of how his party has changed, and is prepared to welcome BAME candidates, even to seats out in the Home Counties commuter belt. This garnered much credibility for him.
Hang on a minute, did I mean to say that?
Sadly, Cleverly has, in his desire to court attention, developed a habit of bandwagon-jumping which has occasionally meant not looking too closely before leaping. This, along with the poorly judged remarks of one Tory fan and the idiocy of one of Cleverly’s colleagues, has dropped him in the kind of hot water that he should be avoiding.
Here's the rep from Sterilisations'R'Us
The exchanges began when the deeply unpleasant Ben “splat the chav” Bradley Tweeted to Tory campaigns officer Chloe Wilson “You're famous @ChloeSWilson !! Congrats!” What he did not mention was why she should suddenly have achieved this status. But Labour-backing journalist Owen Jones knew very well why.
“Ben Bradley, best known for calling for ‘unemployed wasters’ to be sterilised, congratulates prominent Tory activist laughing at her followers calling a gay man ‘a little fag’”. The offending Tweet has disappeared, but the adverse comment passed on Bradley’s congratulatory note shows that many others saw it.
All we saw from Ms Wilson was the magnificently slanted “Owen Jones has accused Ben of ‘representing the people at the top of society.’ Owen Jones went to Oxford, worked in Parliament and then became a journalist. Ben has worked in Aldi, and his wife is still the manager of a local store. The left have lost it”. Ho yus. Jones went from the local Comprehensive to Oxford. Bradley went from an independent school to Bath and Salford Universities, flunked both, and ended up at Nottingham Trent.
Still, minor detail, eh? Meanwhile, Jones had moved on to Cleverly: “James Cleverly is yet another privately educated Tory MP who backs slashing taxes on the rich, hammering benefits and privatising services, but thinks I'm a hypocrite because I went from a Northern comp to Oxford and support social justice”. This was when The Great Man lost it.
“It’s clear that @ChloeSWilson struck a nerve. It’s also clear that lots on the Left think @bbradleymp is a ‘class traitor’ for having the audacity to be a @Conservatives … Owen would like to keep working class lads like Ben ‘in their place’”. Bradley is not “working class”. Jones has no such imperative. But Cleverly had now endorsed homophobia, as had Bradley. For which we will not be seeing an apology any time soon.
Nor will the voters of Mansfield and Braintree be finding out why their elected representatives have time on their hands not to serve their interests, but indulge in a social media pile-on which had the homophobic term “fag” as its Genesis.
You want to know why the Tories are so desperate to paint Labour, and indeed any other party, as the really nasty ones? Hello Ben Bradley and James Cleverly.