Professor Adam Tomkins (new boy on the block)
The demise of the Tory Party
The David Cameron Tory government is fast unravelling as the sleazy conduct of its volunteers, officers, members and government is exposed, mirroring the 1997 downfall of the John Major government.
This article provides (for comparative purposes) briefing, outlining a number of the sleazy incidents that gripped and destroyed the John Major government. Similar behaviour is compromising the government of David Cameron.
Particular attention is given to the behaviour of members of, “The Conservative Future”. The Tory Party youth wing. Members are both professionals and students alike and participate in the life of the Party in many ways.
Many play a direct and active role in the campaigns of their local MSPs, MP or Councillors and others stand for election with many currently representing their local area as Councillors.
Members socialise and debate together and are active at all levels of Party structure. Others are office holders at Constituency level and some are elected members of Local Councils.
In Scotland the Tory Party membership (many aged between 50-80) at 2011 numbered around 8000. This brought problems since it was not possible to conduct any meaningful electorate canvassing without troops on the ground.
Ruth Davidson’s strategy resolved the problem raising the profile of her “shock Conservative Future troops” so that they established and implemented her doctrine in all areas of the Party.
But there was a price to pay for creating a two tier Party and the behaviour of a number of young Tory thugs associated with an increasing number of unsavoury incidents provides warning to the electorate not to provide support to a Party closely modelled on the ideals of a National Socialist Party.
It is possible that the 2020 General Election will provide opportunity for the return of a Labour government, (perhaps in coalition with the SNP).
Another, more likely scenario might see Scotland voting to leave the UK in a referendum in which case events in England & Wales post election would no longer concern Scots.
8 February 2008: Fury Over Young Tory Slave & Master Pictures
One of Scotland’s top young Tories poses as a slave master at a fancy dress party, pulling a colleague behind him in handcuffs. And with a camera on him, David Harris dishes out a sick mock beating to his “slave”.
Harris, 21, is the Scottish secretary of the Tory party’s youth organisation, Conservative Future. Until yesterday, his “slave”, Jamie Johnston, 20, was secretary of Glasgow University Conservatives.
But he promised to quit his post after learning that the press was about to expose the revolting stunt. Harris tried to blame his pal for their shocking choice of costumes, saying: “It was actually one of Mr Johnston’s ideas.” And, incredibly, a spokesman for the Tory party in Scotland played down the incident, saying: “Students dress up for a fancy dress party – it’s hardly the shock of the century.”
Tory leader David Cameron and Scots party chief Annabel Goldie, who have both been photographed with Harris and Johnston, are very unlikely to agree with that assessment.
Johnston posted the photos from the party on his home page on friendship website Facebook. They show Harris dressed in a pith helmet, khaki shirt and shorts and clutching a swagger stick. Johnston trails behind him dressed as a field slave. His wrists are shackled and his shirt stained with fake blood. Harris smirks and hams it up for the camera as he pretends to punish his “slave”. Johnston cowers and puts his hands in front of his face.
The Tories have bragged repeatedly about the revival of their youth wing’s fortunes since the Young Conservatives were rebranded as Conservative Future.
The antics of Harris and Johnston will be desperately embarrassing for party bosses. But Harris was hardly apologetic when the Record confronted him. He said: “We never meant any offence and you have to understand it was actually one of Mr Johnston’s ideas. “It was a private party. Can I ask what’s going to happen? “I can’t offer any comment at the moment, I’m afraid.”
Johnston was more forthcoming. He contacted the press after learning that we had the pictures and said: “I’d like to apologise for any offence that will be caused. “The party was of a light-hearted nature and it was not our intention to offend. I do not condone racism and I understand why these pictures could be seen as offensive. “My friends have always held me in the highest regard and race has never been an issue in any of my relationships with them. “These photos were an outside issue. I do understand how it could become a party issue but the point must be raised that we were acting as individuals. We realise in hindsight it was certainly not appropriate.”
Johnston confirmed that he would be resigning as secretary of the university Conservatives. He said: “I trust the group will accept my resignation in the correct manner.”
Where are the women?
20 May 2010: The Tory Party in Scotland failed to improve it’s position in Scotland at the 2010 election, But The Scottish Conservative Future (CFS) is the way forward
Richard Cook Deputy Chairman of the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party said “I believe deeply in our party, its membership and in the need for a centre right party to represent the hundreds of thousands of Scots who believe in the same things we do. Putting it bluntly, our General Election results were not good.
In all but a few seats the people of Scotland turned out to stop the Tories and not to support us despite the worst economic disaster in British peace time history. It is time the Party strengthened the Scottish (CFS) Conservative Future.
Conservative Future Scotland did a fantastic job of mobilising its members to help in constituencies across Scotland at the 2010 General Election. Now we need to do everything we can to support and grow this organisation.
They move faster, get through more and have a different view on life than our more mature members, and while they bring with them certain challenges they are an essential part of a vibrant political party.
In East Renfrewshire I was blessed to have the support of a large and very dedicated bunch of young people, largely students, who dedicated Tuesday nights and Saturday mornings – right through the bitter cold of last winter – to the canvass activity that helped grow our vote.
Richard Anderson, Ross McFarlane and Colin Taylor, to name just three, did everything they could to coordinate a group of 20+ young activists from Conservative Future branches at Glasgow University, Strathclyde University, Caledonian University and beyond – and what a job they did.
Not that their activities were restricted to canvassing. There were the numerous thousands of leaflets they dropped through doors and the myriad of new ideas they brought forward to the benefit of our campaign.
These guys are from a generation of people who are among the first to have grown up with Labour as the political establishment. They look at the state of our economy and blame lack of job opportunities on our opposition, not the Tories.
For them the word “Tory” does not throw up bad memories of Conservative government and in seeking to end perceptions of a toxic brand we should be asking CFS members to be active participants in brand modernisation.
How do we help them? First of all we need to ask them what they need in order to be able to continue to grow and prosper. We are talking about a generation of people who have grown up in an online world and for whom modern campaign techniques are second nature. As a result they have a very different outlook on life and will want to take us in exciting new directions – both in our structure and our campaign activities.
Then we need to help them deliver exciting organisations on the ground. This is particularly the case on University campuses where political celebrity is often used to attract new members. People like Boris Johnson are extremely popular (hence the range of Boris material produced for CF use at Freshers’ Fairs) and with a young and dynamic new Prime Minister we need to use the positive images we have to there best advantage.
So, we need to help CF branches organise good local events, with a good profile of speaker, and to support these events in person, where appropriate.
Finally we must recognise than in return for their support of campaigns in our constituencies we need to support them. I hope to organise a CFS summer get together (come conference) in Glasgow to thank them for their support of my campaign in East Renfrewshire. More importantly, I hope this will show Conservative Future Scotland we value their involvement and want to hear from them what direction they believe our Party should now take.
8 November 2011: Leaked documents reveal Oxford Union Conservative Association (OUCA) “corrupt from top to bottom@
Three terms of debauchery, anti-Semitism and nepotism at Oxford University’s Conservative club have been revealed after disillusioned officers leaked more than 25 documents to The Oxford Student. Most embarrassing for OUCA is video evidence of one member beginning an anti-Semitic chant, which has featured before in the society’s controversial recent history. The video, filmed towards the end of Michaelmas 2010 in Corpus Christi’s JCR, shows a member drunkenly singing: “Dashing through the Reich”, at the camera, before being silenced by another member. The song’s full version includes he words: “Dashing through the Reich / in a black Mercedes Benz / killing lots of kike / ra ta ta ta ta ”.
“This is a widespread issue at the moment,” said a former OUCA President, “Lots of people were singing it that night, and indeed on many other nights, and the general attitude is that that was OK. The thing is, lots of members do find that song (and songs like that one) absolutely despicable, though little is done to stop it. I am very worried with the direction the society is going in at present.”
Leaked photographs depict numerous high-ranking officers of the society rolling around drunk on the floor and falling off sofas. The members were also photographed late that evening posing in British Empire uniforms. In one particularly bizarre scene, a member pours port into another’s mouth through an Imperialist helmet.
Another photo shows two members dressed as Margaret Thatcher and a miner respectively, the latter bearing a placard across his chest, which reads “I LOVE SHAFTING.”
Ruth Davidson with Ross McFarlane her election agent & GUCA president), the poker faced chap on the right is Stewart Green the GUCA webmaster, and Colin James Taylor, dark haired chap, blue tie immediately above McFarlane, former GUCA president, works for the Tory Press and Research Unit at Holyrood.
“The pun was very funny indeed,” one 2nd year observed, “the flippant attitude to the way in which Thatcher subjugated the working class was not.”
At another Port and Policy meeting, in spite of the association’s reputation for extreme views, one member was overheard complaining that OUCA “was not right wing enough”, while another proudly claimed the society was “a better dressed version of the BNP.”
Cooke, who was present at the meeting, said: “I find it offensive against the Conservative party and efforts to broaden the appeal of OUCA. It betrays the reformist mantra of earlier terms.”
In yet another blow to the eighty seven year old political society’s reputation, one former officer condemned OUCA as it exists today as “corrupt from top to bottom.” A series of private emails between senior OUCA officers also condemned members’ conduct at several society meetings as “an utter disgrace.”
As drunken debauchery at Port and Policy becomes increasingly prevalent, volunteering schemes and the creation of a woman’s officer role and a charity partnership have both been scrapped in a move described by one member as “absolutely disgraceful.”
Anonymous sources in the organization, several of them former officers, claimed its bigoted days are far from over with numerous members engaging in the same behaviour which drove them to be disaffiliated from the University in 2009.
The history of OUCA is one of scandal:
In 2000, four members were kicked out of a meeting of Oxford University Student Union for what the student press described as “a deliberate disruption of proceedings, involving Nazi-style salutes, cries of ‘Viva Pinochet’ and alleged drunken behaviour”.
In 2004 OUCA’s ex-treasurer was found guilty of bringing the organisation into disrepute after writing an article claiming that “the problem with India is its culture [which is] stained by two main features which hold the country down continually with little sign of change: democracy and Hinduism”.
In 2007, they were exposed for singing exactly the same Nazi song that they got in trouble for this month. But the rot amongst young Conservatives is broader than just one university.
An effigy of US President Barack Obama was burned by members of the Conservative student association at St Andrews University. As Political Scrapbook uncovered this morning, this isn’t the first time that St Andrews Conservatives have done something like this: The Conservative Association which caused outrage by burning an effigy of Barack Obama previously torched a likeness of Nelson Mandela on numerous occasions and toasted Apartheid at their annual dinners. The group at St Andrews University have been excoriated for the racial insensitivities of the stunt.
And yesterday, the chair of Conservative Future was savaged for mocking the northern diet of “chips and gravy”:
The leader of the Conservative Party’s youth organisation has been called “patronising” and “snobbish” after insulting the diets of northerners, describing the party’s successes in the region as the ”gravy revolution”.
The Tory website London Spin — previously the venue of appalling anti-gypsy racism — claimed that Conservative Future chair Ben Howlett has “committed to having chips and gravy with CF branches in the north”. Not for the first time, it was left to the blog’s readers to point out how out of touch this supposedly amusing campaign ruse is.
So many young Conservatives have said so many terrible things in public that there exists a blog purely to catalogue them. From Tory Boy Tom complaining:
Gypsy’s breed like rats. How can they have human rights when they aren’t human? Soft touch Britain at its worst.
To Stewart Green, the former secretary of Conservative Future Scotland, musing:
As far as I can see, racism is discrimination against a particular race. So you can be racist against Jews, but not against black people…
The cup of young Tories with terrible views is overflowing. What’s really scary, however, is the thought that none of this is new.
It may well be that what has changed isn’t that Conservative Future has got more racist and offensive over the years, but merely that whereas they used to do all of this in private, it now often spills out into public.
And although Cameron has managed to crack down on stories of his Bullingdon days, it will be harder for the leaders of the future to do the same.
Ruth Davidson addresses a packed conference
12 December 2011: The true racist face of the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party
The new leader of Scotland’s Tories, (former Scottish Conservative Future member) Ruth Davidson, faced a tricky first month since taking the reins on 4th November.
During her electoral campaign, she had to sack her parliamentary assistant Ross MacFarlane, after video footage surfaced of him setting fire to a flag of the European Union, whilst dressed in a University of Glasgow gown.
The incident took place after a dinner organised by the Glasgow University Conservative Association (GUCA).
As MacFarlane, accompanied by two others, lit the flag, sectarian abuse could clearly be heard, including the derogatory term “tarrier” and claims that the pope was a paedophile.
Unfortunately for Davidson, this was not the only time her allies have taken part in sectarian behaviour.
MacFarlane and Davidson had both previously spoken out against yobbishness.
As an MSP, Davidson asked the Scottish Government about antisocial behaviour in Strathclyde and signed a motion on “fighting sectarianism and anti-Irish racism”.
As GUCA president, MacFarlane complained about protests outside a Tory event. “We did have a lot of elderly people who attended the event in their late 70s. I mean, one woman was on her own, turned up in a taxi … and she’s having profanities and abuse screamed in her face by these animals.” Howzat for double standards?
Ultra right wing Roger Helmer UKIP MEP & guest of honour with Ross Macfarlane
Also in her first week as national leader of the party, it emerged that Colin Taylor, of the Tory press and research unit, tweeted lyrics from the song “Here Lies a Soldier”, which sings the praises of the Ulster Volunteer Force, an anti-Catholic Northern Irish terrorist group.
In his tweets, under the name @Ulsterexile, Taylor also casually refers to “tims” another offensive name for Catholics.
The account has since disappeared. As embarrassing as such behaviour may have been for Davidson, it was her response to Taylor’s tweets that has earned her the most criticism.
Taylor was allowed to keep his position, his punishment for his behaviour being no more than a “formal warning.”
Labour MSPs have called this “insufficient” and demanded more “disciplinary proceedings.”
Peter Kearney, of the Catholic Media Office, said: “The Catholic Church in Scotland condemns in the strongest possible terms any sectarian behaviour or criminality, from any quarter whatsoever, as having no place in a civilised society.”
The sectarian incidents occurred at a time when the ruling SNP was steering its anti-sectarianism bill, which would see much tougher punishments dealt to those who make sectarian comments at football grounds and, like Mr Taylor, through social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
Scottish Tory objection to the bill led to the prominent criminal QC Paul McBride quitting the party, just one week before Taylor’s tweets became public knowledge.
And when it’s not sectarianism damaging the Scottish Conservatives’ reputation, it’s been racism, particularly that of Stewart Green, site designer of the current GUCA website and editor of the “Tory Hoose” blog.
Green was one third of the drunken trio involved in the burning of the EU flag and in September it emerged that he had made several racist remarks online, “Why’s it ‘racist to conclude no blacks good enough’? Wasn’t aware black was a race.”
On the same day, he tweeted: “Shock: Oxbridge has only few black students. However, They have zero single armed, black, lesbian mothers. How outrageous.”
He later said: “As far as I can see, racism is discrimination against a particular race. So you can be racist against Jews, but not against black people.” including one tweet which read: “An Asian festival is taking place a few doors up, either that or several cats are being strangled. Can’t quite decide which.”
Other subjects of his racist abuse include Jewish, Pakistani and black students. This collection of sectarian and racist comments from her peers seems to go against what Davidson said to the Glasgow Guardian in November, when she told the paper: “I have said Conservatives never get enough credit for how progressive they can be.”
Those who stand against the Tories in Holyrood, however, argue that the behaviour of Davidson’s colleagues shows her party to be rooted in its old, “Bullingdon Club” ways.
The SNP referred to the exclusive Oxford University club, of which prime minister, and supporter of Davidson during her campaign, David Cameron was a member.
8 March 2014: MP’s aide quits after describing feminists as “whingeing imbeciles who need a good slap around the face”
Conservative Party election agent Stewart Green resigned yesterday after calling female MPs ‘whingeing imbeciles’ and saying feminists ‘need a good slap round the face’. His outbursts on Facebook were described as ‘absolutely horrifying’.
In one, he said he was sick of ‘these wretched women MPs who seem to be constantly going on about there not being enough women in front-line politics’.
He added: ‘This country has been a gradual decline southwards towards the dogs ever since we started cow-towing [sic] to the cretinous pseudo-equality demand of these whingeing imbeciles.’
Stewart Green (formally Glasgow University student)
And it gets worse
Things don’t seem to be getting any better for the 33-year-old leader. It emerged last week that members of the St Andrews University Conservative Association burned an effigy of US president Barak Obama on a St Andrew’s beach.
As a result, the president of that association, Mathew Marshall, will apologise personally to Mr Obama by sending a letter to the White House. Marshall admits that the burning was “undoubtedly stupid.” He went on to say: “I apologise further for any damage this has done to the reputation of the University of St Andrews, or the Scottish Conservative Party.”
Ruth Davidson, at least, will hope that that damage and the incidents before it have not left too big a stain on the party she is now responsible for.
Young conservatives at play
23 June 2012: Cameron sacks ‘foolish’ MP who joined ‘Hitler, Hitler, Hitler’ stag party…as it is revealed that he was the one who hired groom’s Nazi uniform
A Tory MP who took part in a Nazi-themed stag party was last night sacked by David Cameron for his ‘offensive and foolish’ behaviour. Aidan Burley was fired from his job as aide to Transport Secretary Justine Greening a week after The Mail on Sunday obtained footage of the event, which featured a toast to the Third Reich and a guest dressed as an SS officer.
Despite frantic efforts by the MP to salvage his political career – including writing a long letter of apology to The Jewish Chronicle and planning a visit to Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland – the Prime Minister acted decisively when evidence emerged Mr Burley had hired the Nazi costume.
Aidan Burley & David Cameron
2014: Welcome to Conservative Future Scotland’s official website.
We are the youth wing of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party – Scotland’s only patriotic, centre-right party. Conservative Future Scotland has branches throughout Scotland and is made up of Scottish Conservative and Unionist members under the age of 30 and/or in education. We campaign across the length and breadth of Scotland for freedom, enterprise, community and equality of opportunity.
We also host a variety of events across the year which will be advertised on our website and on our Eventbrite profile. This year we will be helping the Team2015 effort, in hope to secure a Conservative Majority in the general election, in 2015.
11 May 2014: Next generation nowhere to be found as Scots Tory youth conference is scrapped
The youth wing of Scotland’s Tory Party has cancelled its annual conference because of a “lack of interest and declining membership”. Conservative Future Scotland (CFS), set up as an incubator for the next generation of Tory politicians, was supposed to hold the event in Edinburgh yesterday. But it pulled the plug after selling just 12 tickets, declaring that the meeting at Teviot Row student union was “no longer viable”.
The failure of the event is an early black mark against Scottish Conservative chairman, Richard Keen QC, who took up the post in January.
On Monday, the CFS Facebook page urged supporters to buy tickets for the conference at £6.50 each or £15 for over-30s, saying it promised to be an “exciting and interesting” event. But 48 hours later, CFS posted: “We’re sorry to announce the National Conference due to be held this Saturday 10th May has been cancelled. Due to lack of interest and declining youth membership numbers only 12 tickets have been sold.”
The conference was due to run before lunch, followed by the CFS’s annual general meeting. The AGM took place yesterday afternoon. An SNP spokeswoman said: “It is no surprise the Tories have a problem finding supporters among Scotland’s younger generation.” A Scottish Conservative spokesman said: “This is an internal party matter.”
He was educated at Keil School and graduated from the University of Glasgow, where he was President of the Conservative Association.
13 September 2015: Brian Monteith: Tory revival in Scotland?
If, at the 2016 Scottish Elections, when the votes are counted, Ruth Davidson is unable to deliver a larger group then where can the Conservatives turn?
The party will have tested to destruction the idea that all it needed was a brighter, smarter, younger, more likeable leader who goes against the stereotype of a party for the strait-laced middle classes or the minor blue-blooded county set.
It will have claimed to have rebranded, left behind its baggage from the past and become more identifiably Scottish; and yet it will still have been rejected.
Despite one more heave, it will have retreated further; despite shouting louder, it will have been ignored.
Maybe then counsel will be sought to ask if it is indeed time to start all over again with something altogether fresh and new. There will be no new right-of-centre party before May next year, but there could still be a need for one if the party fails once more.
So who’s the master now jock??