20 May 2010: Richard Cook The Man Behind the Rebirth of the Conservative Party in Scotland
The former 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 CFs 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.
Richard Cook and Cameron
19 May 2017: Senior Scottish Conservative Richard Cook At the Centre of a £425,000 (DUP) Major Brexit funding scandal.
A modest, semi-detached house in Clarkston on Glasgow’s southside seems an unlikely source for a secretive, £425,000 donation to the Democratic Unionist Party’s Brexit campaign.
But the occupant – Richard Cook – is the only person publicly connected with the Constitutional Research Council, a shadowy pro-union group that funnelled dark money to the DUP ahead of June’s EU referendum.
And Richard Cook is not just connected to Northern Irish unionism – he has links that go to the heart of the Scottish Conservative Party, the Saudi intelligence service and a notorious Indian gun running scandal.
Mr Cook is also a former vice chairman of the Scottish Conservative party and Tory election candidate (for which he was fast-tracked through the selection, according to reports on ConservativeHome).
He has campaigned with Ruth Davidson and David Cameron, and his Facebook friends list is a roll-call of prominent Scottish Tories.
Scottish politicians are now calling for the Scottish Tory leader to clarify her relationship with Cook, who in the 2010 general election lost out to Labour’s Jim Murphy in East Renfrewshire.
Key activists in his team were subsequently found burning the EU flag and posting Northern Irish loyalist song lyrics on Twitter.
Cook is also at the centre of a political scandal raging in Northern Ireland.
Back in February, an openDemocracy investigation found that donors had taken advantage of Northern Ireland’s secretive electoral laws to funnel hundreds of thousands of pounds to the DUP’s pro-Brexit campaign.
Under pressure, the DUP revealed that the party had received £425,622 from a group called ‘the Constitutional Research Council’.
Over £32,000 of this money was spent on data analytics company AggregateIQ, a small Canadian outfit that has been linked to Donald Trump’s billionaire backer Robert Mercer and Cambridge Analytica, who are now at the heart of an investigation by the Information Commission.
We know almost nothing about the Constitutional Research Council.
The outfit has no formal legal status.
What we can say for sure is that it is chaired by Cook, and he has promised to fund the pro-union campaign in any future Scottish independence referendum. “More people with more money are ready to step up to the plate this time compared with the last referendum” Cook told the Sunday Times earlier this year.
He didn’t reveal who those people are.
The DUP has also refused to say who the backers behind the CRC are, and there is little to suggest that Cook himself is a major donor.
Former Conservative colleagues describe Cook as “a nice guy but not a rich guy”. Cook – who could not be contacted for this piece – appears to retain an interest in Scottish politics.
He is listed as an advisor on Think Scotland, a conservative-minded website funded by Scottish unionist businessman Robert Kilgour.
Think Scotland is owned by former Tory MSP Brian Monteith. Monteith was head of press during the referendum for Leave.EU, the campaign group run by Arron Banks and Nigel Farage.
Cook’s interests are not confined to politics.
Since general election defeat in 2010, he has been involved in a number of international business deals.
In 2012, his company Cook Consulting (UK) Ltd held a press conference in Glasgow announcing its involvement in a £640m water desalination project in Pakistan.
The firm failed to submit accounts in 2014 and was dissolved by Companies House via compulsory strike-off in 2015.
In 2013, Cook founded another company called Five Star Investment Management Ltd with the former head of the Saudi Arabian intelligence agency, Prince Nawwaf bin Abdul Aziz.
The prince’s son is the Saudi ambassador to the UK.
The other director of the company was Peter Haestrup, a Danish national who has been connected to the Purulia arms drop case, a long-running multinational scandal that involved weapons being dropped over the Indian province of West Bengal in 1995.
Five Star Investment Management Ltd was registered at Mr Cook’s Glasgow address.
The firm filed no accounts with Companies House, and was dissolved in December 2014.
Cook also has connections with right-wing pressure groups in the UK.
He was Scottish spokesperson for Conservative Friends of Israel and for the Campaign Against Political Correctness, a campaign allied to the Freedom Association, a right-wing Eurosceptic pressure group that supported apartheid in South Africa.
Back in 2009, Richard Cook spoke alongside current Tory MSP Murdo Fraser at a Freedom Association fringe event at the Conservative party conference in Perth to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Margaret Thatcher’s 1979 election victory.
Freedom Association Chief Executive Simon Richards later praised Cook as “one of the hardest working PPC’s (Parliamentary Prospective Candidates) anywhere in the country”.
The Freedom Association has historical links with Northern Ireland.
Among its original founders was Ross McWhirter, a controversial journalist who campaigned for strict restrictions on Irish people in Britain, including making it compulsory for all Irish people in Britain to register with the local police and to provide signed photographs of themselves when renting flats or booking into hotels and hostel.
McWhirter was shot dead by the Provisional IRA in Enfield in 1975.
The Freedom Association boasts of “friendly links” with the Democratic Unionist Party.
In 2007 and 2008, leading DUP politicians Jeffrey Donaldson and Sammy Wilson were involved in Freedom Association “fact finding” events in Northern Ireland.
At the time, the Freedom Association said it had “taken a close interest in Ulster matters from its earliest days and is keen to strengthen its ties with the province and to demonstrate its support for the Union.”
Donaldson was the chair of the DUP’s Brexit campaign – his name appeared on the election material that the CRC’s £425,000 donation paid for – and Wilson was a prominent pro-Brexit DUP voice throughout the campaign, regularly appearing in the media.
After his defeat in the 2010 general election, Richard Cook wrote: “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.”
Among the activists he singled out for praise during the campaign were Ross McFarlane and Colin Taylor.
McFarlane was subsequently sacked as a Holyrood assistant by Ruth Davidson in 2011 after footage emerged showing him setting fire to the EU standard while dressed in the robes of Glasgow University amid anti-Catholic taunts.
McFarlane had been Davidson’s election agent.
Around the same time, it was discovered that Belfast born Colin Taylor had posted song lyrics on Twitter glorifying Northern Irish loyalist terrorist group, the Ulster Volunteer Force, while serving as president of the student Conservative Association from 2009 to 2010.
The social media posts were picked up when Taylor was working for the Tory Press and Research Unit at Holyrood.
An SNP spokesperson said: “These are deeply concerning allegations The fact that we still do not know the source of such a significant amount of cash used to help bankroll the Brexit campaign is unacceptable, and cannot be allowed to continue.
Just as concerning are the apparent links to the highest levels of the Scottish Tory party.
Ruth Davidson must clarify what links she has with Mr Cook, and whether her party has helped itself to money from the same murky sources.”
2010: Conservative Future in Scotland
The Tory Party youth wing in Scotland is comprised of all party members aged 30 and younger.
Members are both professional and students alike and participate in the life of the Party in many ways.
They enjoy an active membership life participating in the campaigns of their local MSPs, MP or Councillors at all levels of the Party structure and often meet to socialise and debate together.
Many 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 created problems since it was not possible to conduct any meaningful electorate canvassing without troops on the ground.
Ruth Davidson’s strategy resolved her problem when she turned away from the “Tory Old Guard” instead preferring to raise the profile of her personally selected “Conservative Future Footsoldiers” so that they would cement and implement her doctrine in all areas of the Party in Scotland.
But there was a price to pay for creating this two tier Party and the behaviour of a number of young Tory thugs associated with an increasing number of unsavoury incidents gives warning to the electorate not to provide unfettered support to a political group closely modelled on the ideals of a National Socialist Party.
DUP leader at No10 Downing Street for talks
12 September 2011: Ruth Davidson’s Conservative Future President & Colleagues in Drunken Anti-Catholic Rant
Footage has emerged of Ross McFarlane, who was also the MSP’s election agent, setting fire to the EU standard while he was wearing Glasgow University robes.
Davidson fired him after being told of the incident, which happened after a St Andrew’s Day dinner last year.
Video footage shows McFarlane and some friends in Hyndland, in Glasgow’s West End, at 2am after the dinner, which was attended by Ms Davidson and a guest speaker, right-wing Tory MEP Roger Helmer.
The footage shows three people, including McFarlane and another individual draped in a Union Flag, trying to burn the EU flag on the pavement.
Struggling to set the cloth on fire, McFarlane says “F**k sake”, before adding: “Get a lighter.” An off-camera voice is heard to say: “Douse it.”
At this point it becomes clear the group is planning to burn the flag using alcohol and a lighter.
McFarlane is then seen to pour liquid on to the flag, prompting an associate to say: “What a waste of vodka, by the way.”
A frustrated McFarlane exclaims: “Somebody get a lighter.”
The failure to destroy the flag then becomes a source of merriment for a member of the group off-camera.
He can be heard saying: “There’s more chance of f*****g seeing the Pope confess to paedophilia.”
The group laughs. The same person then says: “There’s more chance of Hugh Dallas telling us he’s a f*****g tarrier.” – a derogatory term for an Irish Catholic.
The jibe prompts more laughter. McFarlane finally sets the flag alight.
The group expresses its approval before one of them starts to sing God Save The Queen.
The fire peters out and McFarlane says: “S**t disnae burn, lads.”
Davidson and her Conservative Future Team at Glasgow University
Ruth Davidson’s Press and Research Unit Assistant and Conservative Future Member in Anti-Catholic Rant
Also in her first week as national leader of the party, it emerged that Belfast born Colin Taylor, a Glasgow University graduate and former President of Conservative Future Scotland (CFS) and now employed at the public’s expense at Holyrood in 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 Taylor 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 late Roman Catholic criminal QC Paul McBride quitting the party, just one week before Taylor’s tweets became public knowledge.
25th September 2011: More Trouble For Ruth Davidson As Former Secretary of Conservative Future Scotland Posts Racist Comments Online
Stewart Green, Glasgow University Graduate and former secretary of Conservative Future Scotland and a key figure behind the “Tory Hoose” blog, claimed it was not possible to be racist against “blacks” and said it did not matter how many black people went to university.
Green was one of the Tory members embroiled in a flag-burning row that resulted in party leadership hopeful Ruth Davidson firing one of her aides.
Toryhoose.com was formed by senior party supporters in 2011 as a Scottish version of the acclaimed Conservative Home website.
The blog describes itself as a forum for “fresh thinking” in the Tories and is edited by activists.
Contributors have given extensive coverage to the Scottish leadership contest and organised an opinion poll of members’ views last week.
However, Green has posted his controversial views on race elsewhere online. Green, the site’s webmaster and “leadership editor”, said in a post on university admissions on microblogging site Twitter: “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.”
Green also tweeted: “An Asian festival is taking place a few doors up, either that or several cats are being strangled. Can’t quite decide which.”
On UK Government policy towards Pakistan, he said the Asian country’s “first mistake” was “ending imperial rule”.
Green was one of those present when another young Conservative, Ross McFarlane, set fire to a European Union flag on a Glasgow street last year.
McFarlane was sacked as Davidson’s parliamentary assistant after footage of him burning the flag emerged.
It clearly shows Green and another individual holding the cloth as McFarlane tried to set it alight.
Conservative Future St Andrews University
20 September 2016: St Andrews University Investigation Confirms Conservative Future Society Election Fraud
An investigation conducted by the Students Association has found that allegations of “election fraud” and other allegations of abuse of authority, against the St Andrews Conservative and Unionist Society Chairman and committee were in fact true.
There were a number of serious allegations including an anti-Roman Catholic sentiment within the Society.
Stephan Maier, (member) said that at times there was a “general sentiment” of anti-Roman Catholic feeling in the Society stating that, anti-Roman Catholic remarks were made.
He said: “I’m not someone who feels very uncomfortably easily myself, but I believe others would.
People would easily be put off by that immediately, I completely agree with that.
Certain people would feel their presence was unwanted, and their opinion carried little or no value because they were Roman Catholic.
It put off people from joining or attending.”
A spokesman for the membership said: “It is some relief to be vindicated by the Union, and that our claims that the election had been unpleasant and corrupted have been confirmed.”
Richard Cook and his supporting team East Renfrewshire
4 May 2017: Callum Purves, former Conservative Future Society President found Guilty of Election Foul Play at University is Newly Elected Kinross Councillor.
Callum Purves (Society President) and Ian Donnell, (Ulsterman: believer in Faith, Flag and Family and Society Chairman) were investigated and found guilty of serious electoral foul play.
The odious behaviour of senior officers of the Society, many since promoted to senior positions within the Scottish Conservative Party is symptomatic of a failure on the part of Ruth Davidson and her colleagues to provide leadership and guidance to younger members of her Party.
It is conjectured that, had the information contained in this article been made available to the Kinross electorate it is doubtful Purves would have been elected to serve as a councillor.
Might be he will do the right thing and stand down and submit himself for re-election. But “pigs might fly” before that happens.