Those who look in regularly on Zelo Street will no doubt remember the sad story of young activist Elliott Johnson, who took his own life in September 2015. He had been a victim of bullying, notably by the now disgraced Mark Clarke, who had been the main organiser of the RoadTrip 2015 campaign. It has been suggested that this campaign caused may constituencies to effectively bust their election spending limits.
Clarke was thrown out of the party, and two of his pals were told not to bother attending that year’s conference. The Young Britons’ Foundation, brainchild of lawyer Donal Blaney, was effectively wound up as a result of the controversy: Johnson had been a regular attender of its gatherings, as had Clarke. Rumours persist that a number of male Tory MPs used these gatherings of young activists to score casual sex.
But one supposedly positive result of the period of reflection following Johnson’s death was that the Tory Party was going to take bullying seriously. Sadly, four years later, we appear to be back at square one, as there has been another instance of a young activist committing suicide, and once again there have been claims of bullying.
As free sheet Metro has told, “A young Conservative political campaigner posted a string of sex assault allegations that she timed to be tweeted after she killed herself. Jade Smith, 21, was found dead on Sunday near her home in Saltburn, Teesside … A series of tweets appeared yesterday during the Prime Minister’s address to the Tory party conference in which she made a string of allegations against other Conservatives”. There was more.
Ms Smith’s Tweets included this: “I was a 17/18 year old female who had been bullied. I’ve always received abuse for being a Tory. But the abuse we receive from each other and the older people in our associations is what takes it too far … We shouldn’t have to put up with the bullying from each other. We shouldn’t have to be worried that our friends are going to be raped at conference or at the very least sexually assaulted”. And, sadly, more.
The Great Guido is so concerned about bullying ...
“We shouldn’t have to put up with creepy weird old men maturating [?] over us or grabbing us to go and chat to their friends and try to take us home at the end of the night. There’s a reason we don’t feel safe at conference”. The Tories have said “We take all allegations of bullying or harassment incredibly seriously and are looking into the circumstances surrounding this deeply tragic incident”, but the Guardian notes the Johnson case.
“The party carried out an inquiry into allegations of bullying following the death in 2015 of Elliott Johnson”. It wasn’t published, and whatever was done in its wake didn’t prevent a recurrence. Nor did it prevent a crass and hypocritical intervention from the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog.
... that he put Mark Clarke on his guest list
The Great Guido described Ms Smith as “A prominent and well-loved Tory activist from the North East, who tragically died at the weekend”, before adding the puke-making coda “Guido’s thoughts are, of course, with her family and friends at this awful time”. Staines is so against bullying that he invited Mark Clarke to the Fawkes 10th anniversary bash.
The Tory Party needs to have a good long look at itself. And sooner rather than later.
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