Back in 2014, Zelo Street caught now-disgraced and distinctly former Tory activist and organiser Mark Clarke trying to oust two officers from Tory youth wing Conservative Future, chairman Oliver Cooper and deputy chairman (membership) Sarah Jane Sewell. Clarke was so full of himself at ousting Ms Sewell that he organised a celebration at the Two Chairmen pub to mark the occasion. Real class, Mark Clarke.
Maxwell Woodger with one disgraced Tory ...
Clarke’s preferred replacement for the hapless Cooper was Alexandra Paterson, but not because she was seeing Tory MP Rob Halfon and Clarke wanted to use the relationship to exert leverage on Halfon in order to gain political favours from him, oh no. So who was on board with “Team Paterson”? One of those enthusiastically supporting her candidature was a young man called Maxwell Woodger, who was hoping to become chair of London CF.
Thus Woodger was schooled in the art of low politics and dirty tricks. He was snapped alongside Stephen Canning, who was later suspended by the Tories as part of their investigation into the attempted blackmailing of Rob Halfon. Canning, an accomplished liar, told his local paper “They were two very separate organisations. Mark Clarke was not part of Conservative Future, the organisation I was deputy chairman of”.
Very good, Stephen, that’s why Clarke effectively had the CF chairman removed. But while Canning has gone his own way, and has now been suspended again following assault allegations, Woodger has got himself put forward for the apparently rock-solid council seat of Queens Gate, in South Kensington. And it was during campaigning that he suffered another of those little local difficulties in a pub not far from Grenfell Tower.
As the Mirror has reported, “Tory canvassers were allegedly heard discussing how to spin the Grenfell blaze for political gain a mile from the scene of the tragedy … Local council candidate Maxwell Woodger is said to have been part of the group - which was also allegedly heard saying survivors still living in hotels were ‘milking the system’.
Mr Woodger strongly refuted the allegation but a complaint has been made to Kensington, Chelsea and Fulham Conservative Party”. And there was more.
... and another ...
“A witness at the Ladbroke Arms said: ‘They were unashamed, it was shocking to hear. One appeared to be briefing a woman … She was told, “What we need to get across is there are only ‘X’ still left in hotels and they’re only there because basically they are milking the system” … He said they needed to spin Grenfell on doorsteps’ … Aalya Moses, 57, who escaped the inferno last June and spent five months in a hotel, said: ‘I don’t know how being burnt out of your home and stuck in a hotel for months is milking the system’”.
... and, sadly, another
Woodger claimed in response that “The whole story is made up”, but as those of A Certain Age like to put it, Mandy Rice Davis Applies. Woodger’s background is in dirty politics, and the whole incident smacks of that cavalier and uncaring attitude afflicting so many who went through the CF ranks at that time. So I’m sure those backing the Labour campaign in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea will try that bit harder in Queens Gate.
It was the Nasty Party all those years ago, and the Nasty Party it’ll always be.